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“Climate, Meet Weather”

Are you interested in how computer forecasts of weather and climate are made?  Would you like to know how they compare?  In talks I give, I compare the two to a Ferrari versus a Ford pickup.  The Ferrari goes fast and looks great, just like a weather forecast model that has to get the details of the weather correct in a short time period.  But you probably wouldn’t want to plow a field with one. The Ford truck is similar in that it works on the same general principles of four wheels, a rigid body, and an engine that provides the power, but the truck is built for the long haul and the rugged conditions you might see on a typical farm rather than speed and agility.  I’ll let you argue about which is prettier.

The Princeton Alumni Newsletter this week provides a more detailed look at the differences between the two types of computer models and how they are getting closer together as computers get faster and capable of many more computations per second. In the future this will give us better weather forecasts out to as much as two (or even more!) weeks ahead with as much skill as our five to seven day forecasts have now (and that is more skill than you might think). You can read about it at https://paw.princeton.edu/article/climate-meet-weather.