Forecast model development and diagnostics

Diagnosing problems with the models is the first step towards solving problems and improving our forecasts.

Continual monitoring of the models performance, in conjunction with detailed comparisons against a wide range of satellite and in-situ observations and feedback from forecasters enables us to develop physically based and testable hypothesis of the causes of model problems and systematic biases, and develop model changes which address them. This process involves specialists both within the Met Office from the  Atmospheric Processes groups and Global Modelling, and external collaborators around the world.  We also work with the Seamless Prediction group to examine the performance of the model across the full range of temporal and spatial scales forecast by the Unified Model.

The proposed model changes are then tested by running a forecast trial, where an operational forecast model is re-run for a period, modified by the inclusion of one or more proposed changes. The impact of the changes can then be evaluated by looking in detail at the Verification results and any other suitable observations. As the issue is investigated further a package of complementary changes is built which is then tested, prior to operational use, in a Parallel Suite run alongside the operational versions of the Unified Model This acts as a final quality control on the changes and to ensure that the forecasters and down-stream systems are prepared for the changes.

Key aims

  • to monitor the performance of the Met Office operational forecasting models.
  • to diagnose the causes of any systematic biases and problems.
  • to fix problems directly or with the wider research community.
  • to test proposed model changes to ensure that they improve forecast quality without unintended consequences.

Current projects

  • Model Monitoring: Continuous model monitoring is essential for diagnosing problems.
  • Tropical Cyclone Monitoring and Forecasting: Tropical Cyclones require specialist diagnostic techniques.
  • CEOP: The Coordinated Enhanced Observing Period is an international project which aims to improve our understanding of water and energy cycles.
  • GCSS: Our work in this international project compares the performance of different models in forecasting Tropical Convection.
  • SINERGEE and CloudSAT comparisons: We use high resolution satellite observations to evaluate model cloud forecasts.
  • THORPEX:  Experimental medium range forecasts are developed as part of The Observing System Research and Predictability Experiment international project.
  • Operational Model Development: Our operational models are regularly upgraded. These range from global models to high resolution models over the UK and around the world.
  • Dust and Air Quality Model Development: Provides improved forecasts of dust storms in support of British and NATO Forces deployed in or nearby arid regions, and air quality forecasts for the United Kingdom.

Last updated: 15 April 2014

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