The concept of weather forecasting is a very ancient one. Since centuries humans have been making attempts to read the skies for any possible rain, storm, sunshine or climate change.
Some of the instruments that were used to assess weather conditions before the advent of technology are:
- Anemometers and
- Rain Gauges
Comparing the Old and the New:
- The basis concept remains the same.
- Data is now collected and processed at a higher rate.
- The quality of data collected has considerably improved
- The level and rate of information transfer and communication has increased multi-fold.
- It is now easier to issue and communicate a piece of critical information in public or private interest.
- A climatic prediction can be made only after taking into account the weather conditions all over the world.
- It is possible to predict weather only upto 5 days in advance
- Globally collected data is processed in super computers and analyzed using mathematical models
- In the United States, this process is carried out by the National Weather Service.
Modern Weather Technology:
Modern day weather forecasting is highly dependant on advanced technology based instruments and devices.
Modern weather technology equipment includes:
- Remote sensing systems to measure things that are more than 100 miles away from the scope of radars
- Advanced radars
- Instrumented Balloons
- Weather satellites
Computers and communication systems are used to:
- Interpret data and images
- Process and model atmospheric processes
- Make predictions and forecasts
- Convert raw data into maps and three dimensional models
- Communicate the processed information to mass media interfaces
Technology and equipment are used to measure the following critical parameters that are essential in any weather analysis:
- Measuring the temperature by thermometers, analyzing the motion of molecules and conversions on the temperature scales.
- Measuring the air's pressure using a mercury barometer or aneroid barograph and understanding it with respect to weather conditions.
- Measuring the air's humidity using a sling psychrometer or a hair hygrometer
- Measuring rain using an official rain gauge or a tipping bucket gauge for automated readings.
- Measuring the depth of snow
- Measuring the wind using anemometers and aerovanes for information on speed and direction.
- Upper air measurements using weather balloons and airplanes.
- Weather radar and satellites for a broader and detailed picture.
Upper air observations:
- These are usually done via weather balloons.
- Balloons are launched every twelve hours in every part of the world.
- The data gives important information on the conditions in upper atmosphere.
- This information is crucial for airplanes and weather forecasting.
- Airplanes can also be used to gather data for research and help in predicting hurricanes and the state of storms
there are basically two systems of weather radars:
- National Weather Service Next Generation Weather Radars (NEXRAD): NEXRAD are used to track weather systems and detect severe thunderstorm, tornadoes and details of snow storms.
- Terminal Doppler Weather Radars: These are designed to scan takeoff paths at the airports for microbursts and other relatively small-scale hazards to aviation.
Weather Satellites also come in two types: Two kinds of satellites watch the weather.
- Geostationary satellites orbit at the same speed as the earth and record data from around 22,000 miles above the Earth.
- Polar orbiting satellites are used to obtain a closer view as they orbit at a lower altitude.
Latest developments in Weather Technology:
The National Weather Service has installed the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System.
The Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System delivers information through:
- Doppler radars,
- Automated observing systems, and
- NWS super computers
Space Weather Technology:
- Weather Technology Was developed by the ARINC's Colorado Springs office.
- It helps in identifying and monitoring any potential threat that harsh radiation and geomagnetic disturbances may have on satellites, communication and navigation systems.
- Generates a Space Environmental Impacts Model, which establishes a relationship between geological events and their impact on weather technology systems.
- Maintains a convenient and easily accessible database of all research and observations.
- On detection of a potentially hazardous solar flare, analysts identify the satellites and systems at risk and inform the satellite controllers so that the damage can be averted.
- Can be used as a research and planning tool at academic institutions.