Met Office in the Media: 16 September 2011

The Met Office probability weather game has received positive coverage from around the world after becoming the largest study on the understanding of probabilistic weather forecasts undertaken.  The Washington Post reported on how game players were contributing to the science of communicating uncertainty in weather forecasting, whilst Digital River review the game, reporting: “The efficacy of a well-designed ‘gamification’ strategy has been demonstrated brilliantly by the Met Office in this case.”

The use of probabilities in weather forecasting has been a topic of debate for many years but there is little in the way of research on how to present the extra information contained in these forecasts. So far the game, which sees players helping Brad the ice-cream man by providing probability-based weather advice, has been played nearly 8,000 times. There is only a limited amount of time left to play the game, which is available at www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/weather-game. The scientists leading the project are hoping that more people can take part to give even more comprehensive results.

Elsewehere several newspapers including The Times have reported on a project to take old weather records and use the to re-analyse past climate. ACRE (Atmospheric Circulation Reconstructions over Earth) aims to recover sparse historical weather observations which are then processed to create reconstructions or ‘reanalyses’ of the world’s climate over the last 200 years. A huge catalogue of old weather data, from the ships’ logs of historic voyages to World War I Royal Navy records, is being used for an international project to recreate the world’s past climate. The reanalysis will show the state of the atmosphere at six hourly intervals to give unprecedented detail about past weather. The end product will have a huge number of potential uses – including understanding future climate. Rob Allan , leading ACRE for the Met Office, said: “This project will help to shed much more light on the patterns, variability and changes in our past climate. This will not only help give us more confidence in our understanding of the past, but also allow us to better assess our predictions for the future.”

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