Friday, January 27, 2012

Advances in weather instrumentation

I dug this great post from Cliff Mass about the state of modern weather observation instrumentation.

As I read it, I was remembering a discussion I'd had with my sailing friend Nick about whether the real-time wind reports at could/should include information from the boats themselves (to start with, from large commercial vessels or government vessels such as the USCG small boats, but eventually might each sailboat itself report on the wind conditions it's observing)?

So it was a kick to read about how large-scale weather forecasting in fact does include such information, and to come across this subtle observation about the feedback loop that occurs with that process:

As part of the Volunteer Observing System (VOS), mariners take observations every six hours. The light blue dots on this chart show where ships were reporting at one particular time:


[But] as forecasts get better, the ships avoid the areas we really need data---in the middle and near major storms. When forecasts were bad, ships would get trapped in dangerous conditions--now they can get out of the way.

Technology improves, and the way that humans use that technology improves as well, and the whole inter-connected world evolves.

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