PerspectiveAtmospheric Science

Weather Forecasting with Ensemble Methods

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Science  14 Oct 2005:
Vol. 310, Issue 5746, pp. 248-249
DOI: 10.1126/science.1115255

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Traditional weather forecasting has been built on a foundation of deterministic modeling--start with initial conditions, put them into a supercomputer model, and end up with a prediction about future weather. But as Gneiting and Raftery discuss in their Perspective, a new approach--ensemble forecasting--was introduced in the early 1990s. In this method, up to 100 different computer runs, each with slightly different starting conditions or model assumptions, are combined into a weather forecast. In concert with statistical techniques, ensembles can provide accurate statements about the uncertainty in daily and seasonal forecasting. The challenge now is to improve the modeling, statistical analysis, and visualization technologies for disseminating the ensemble results.