Weather Forecasting Through the Ages

Benefits to Society
The potential economic benefits of more accurate weather forecasts are immense. For example, a more accurate 24-hour forecast of heavy rain and thunderstorms along a cold front could allow airline dispatchers enough time to reroute their airplanes appropriately and thereby help alleviate costly delays. Being able to pinpoint a wintertime low temperature in Florida could be the deciding factor in whether orange grove farmers make the correct decision regarding deployment or non-deployment of freeze prevention methods to save their crops. Better information on wind patterns could aid the National Hurricane Center in producing a more accurate forecast of a hurricane’s track and might enable a reasoned decision to be made regarding evacuating thousands of families out of Miami or Jacksonville. In military operations, there is a considerable historical record of instances when weather conditions have altered the course of battles, including examples when accurate forecasting has been a deciding factor in one side’s victory.

Fruits and
Sample crops that could benefit from more accurate weather forecasts aiding farmers in selecting harvesting times and in protecting their crops from freezing temperatures.

Only fifty years ago, weather forecasting was an art, derived from the inspired interpretation of data from a loose array of land-based observing stations, balloons, and aircraft. Since then it has evolved substantially, based on an array of satellite and other observations and sophisticated computer models simulating the atmosphere and sometimes additional elements of the Earth’s climate system. All this has been made possible by advances in satellite technology, a sweeping acceleration in worldwide communications, and overwhelming increases in computing power. Aqua’s AIRS/AMSU/HSB combination should further these advances, enabling more accurate predictions over longer periods.



Weather Forecasting Through the Ages
Early History
Towards Numerical Prediction
Modern Tools of the Trade
The Aqua Spacecraft
Benefits to Society

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