Spotlight on Science: Meteorology

Woooooo weather! I’ve got a bit of a love affair with meterology going on. We all do, deep down, judging by the amount everyone I know checks the weather. Daily, more than daily, everyone holds metservice up and nobody really thinks about how this magical weather forecast happens.When you think about it, meterology is kind of ridiculous. A massive amount of data from across the country, hundreds of data collectors, is put into ridiculous computer programs that work constantly to attempt to tell you what the weather is going to be tomorrow.

And these attempts are constantly improving! For my year 7 science fair (about ten years ago now), I did a project on how accurate weather predictions were. I contacted metservice and was told that their accuracy rate was about 33% (sun/rain, temperature within 3 degrees) – my observational experiment confirmed this. (As a side note, I didn’t get into the school finals of the Science Fair because “Meteorology isn’t a science.” Despite trying to tell people that -ology comes from logos, the greek for knowledge and is generally attached to sciences like BIOLOGY, my ability to science beyond my years was never recognized at a higher level.) (Yes, okay, astrology is the black sheep of the logos family.)

Ten years later and metservice can accurately predict the maximum temperature to within two degrees 79% of the time (1) , according to their annual report. Everything else has higher accuracy. This is probably due to more sophisticated technology, in a large part, but also increasing amounts of weather science being better able to read the wind. Climate change has resulted in us paying a lot more attention to both “climate” and the tiny thing that makes up climate, weather.

The upshot of putative global warming, climate change, spread of malaria, extinction of species that may hold the next important pharmaceutical up on mountains in Papua New Guinea, and all that jazz, is that we are much better at knowing how many layers to put on tomorrow. So that’s something.

Sophia, who was always very good at science and is definitely not bitter about that Science Fair, after all it was like 10 years ago.

One thought on “Spotlight on Science: Meteorology

  1. sandra January 26, 2013 / 4:54 pm

    Do you know, I still use information I learned from your science fair project in my day-to-day life? It was great research and Bob McDavitt was so generous in his responses to your questions.

    Weather forecasting (sorry, can’t spell the meteor-thingy) not science? Pah!

    Let me recommend to your readers the yearly metservice weather calendar, full of interesting weather events from years gone by and amazing photos.

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