What makes weather forecasting go wrong?


Have you ever woken up to a sunny forecast only to get soaked on your way to office?

Weatherman often go wrong on predictions because the models they use for forecasting can't accurately track the highly influential climatic elements, a new study has found.

Brigham Young University (BYU) mechanical engineering professor Julie Crockett says it's not the weatherman's fault that he's wrong so often.

The elements called atmospheric internal waves are waves that propagate between layers of low-density and high-density air. Although hard to describe, almost everyone has seen or felt these waves, researchers said.

Cloud patterns made up of repeating lines are the result of internal waves, and airplane turbulence happens when internal waves run into each other and break.

"Internal waves are difficult to capture and quantify as they propagate, deposit energy and move energy around," Crockett said in a statement.

"When forecasters don't account for them on a small scale, then the large scale picture becomes a little bit off, and sometimes being just a bit off is enough to be completely wrong about the weather," said Crockett.

"When internal waves deposit their energy it can force the wind faster or slow the wind down such that it can enhance large scale weather patterns or extreme kinds of events.

"We are trying to get a better feel for where that wave energy is going," Crockett said. Crockett wants to develop a better linear wave model with both 3D and 2D modelling that will allow forecasters to improve their weather forecasting.

"Understanding how waves move energy around is very important to large scale climate events. Our research is very important to this problem, but it hasn't solved it completely," Crockett said.

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