Predict the weather

Thermometer Sun high Degres. Hot summer day. High Summer temperatures

Credit: batuhan toker / Getty Images

A UK and Canada collaboration gives us a more precise way of predicating the weather.

For decades, researchers have relied on computational methods that divide the Earth into small regions to predict the weather. But a new method known as a ‘computational mesh’, developed through a longstanding UK and Canada collaboration, enables researchers to target an area to concentrate their efforts.

Imagine a fishing net or invisible mesh enveloping the entire globe, that ‘mesh’ can be ‘stretched’ or ‘shrunk’ to focus a weather study and allow researchers to make more precise predictions.

More accuracy, less computing

The mesh has been worked on since the 1980’s by:

  • Chris Budd, Professor at the University of Bath (UK)
  • Robert Russell, Professor at Simon Fraser University (Canada).

It could be used to:

  • focus on a storm over the Bahamas
  • predict rainfall in Texas
  • follow a tsunami across the Indian Ocean
  • measure pressure changes that might cause flame fronts.

Professor Budd said:

The smaller the regions are or, in other words, the more points in the ‘computational mesh’, the more accurate the calculations are. It makes a lot of sense to do this because then you can get the accuracy that you want. For me, it’s very important that I can talk about climate change. It’s just been a huge and really positive collaboration between our two nations.

Strong collaboration

Decades later, their collaboration and friendship are still going strong. They have:

  • organised workshops
  • created a UK and Canada student exchange programme
  • hosted joint conferences
  • partnered with The UK Met Office where their methods were incorporated into the national weather service’s operational code.

This research was supported by:

  • the Natural Environment Research Council
  • the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
  • the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences in Canada.

Last updated: 19 October 2021

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