Weather Forecasting and Climate Models

Meteorology is a branch of the atmospheric sciences which includes atmospheric chemistry and atmospheric physics, with a major focus on weather forecasting. The invention of data gathering instruments lies at the foundation of weather forecasting. From the 16th century onward, incremental inventions made it possible to measure temperature (thermometer), air pressure (barometer), wind speed and direction (anemometer), enabling scientists to develop and utilize simplified weather models. Refinement of measuring instruments and the possibility to bring them to the correct location and altitude also furthered the field of meteorology. TIROS-1 for example, the first dedicated weather satellite launched in 1960, made it possible to view large scale cloud patterns in their totality.

The introduction of the computer in the 1950s onward allowed more complex models to be developed. Using multiple models simultaneously increases statistical accuracy and therefore the reliability of the forecast. Comparing past predictions with actual data—hindcasting—makes it possible to evaluate the reliability of forecasting models and adjust them accordingly leading to a wide variety of atmospheric and oceanic global climate models (AGCMs and OGCMs). Weather services to this day still use a combination of many atmospheric and oceanic GCMs to make reliable forecasts.

Dependable weather models require global data. This in turn, requires international cooperation. For this, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) was founded in 1950 in Geneva, Switzerland. By 2020, the WMO had 193 member states/territories and had Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) together with United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The multidisciplinary nature of meteorology and its study scope on a planetary scale both requires and stimulates a wide variety of expertise and cooperation between nations, institutes and businesses.

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Climate models are based on a variety of parameters relating to water

Sources: Diagram based on IPCC Data Distribution Centre. What is a GCM? 

  1. IPCC Data Distribution Centre. What is a GCM?