Science and technology developments for Olympic and Paralympic weather forecasts

Our science and technology developments for the Olympic and Paralympic Games will help to deliver increasing accuracy and detail in our weather forecasts during the Games and well into the future.

As part of the services provided for London 2012, we have installed additional weather observation equipment and developed enhanced forecasting capability to support our staff.

The developments include daily air quality forecasts, high resolution wind and wave modelling for Weymouth and Portland, high resolution ensemble forecasting at 2 km for the whole of the UK and additional weather observing technology at Olympic sites.

Daily air quality forecasts

Weather plays a big part in determining air quality and air quality forecasts are now available for all 5000 forecast locations on our website. During the Olympics, air quality forecasts will also be available in map format. We’ve also produced a guide to how the air quality index affects health.

Sample daily air quality index map


Wind and wave modelling for Weymouth and Portland

Currently, our models can generate atmospheric weather data for every 1.5 km over the whole of the UK. However, due to the complexity of the winds around Weymouth and Portland a model will be used which gives nearly 20 times more detail than is usually available.

This ensures the highest detail possible for forecasts for wind and waves in the area during the London 2012 competition. While the output from these specially run models is primarily intended to help Met Office forecasters at the Weymouth and Portland events, it will also be available for the public to see for the duration of the Olympics in the showcase of the high resolution wave model.

Example total significant wave height forecast for Weymouth and Portland


High resolution ensemble forecasts

Recently the Met Office introduced cutting edge technology into its operational forecasting to help improve the accuracy of forecasting for ‘small-scale’ weather features like thundery showers. For the Olympics, the Met Office is set to take high-resolution forecasting a step further by running multiple forecasts at the same time, a technique called ensemble forecasting.

The high-resolution ensembles will be tested throughout the Olympics before being subject to further research with a view that the facility could be introduced operationally in the future, potentially leaving a legacy that will benefit the UK well after the Olympic and Paralympic Games are over.

Example high resolution ensemble forecast showing chance that temperature will reach 20 C

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