Continually improving our forecasts

Met Office IBM Supercomputer

The Met Office has been at the forefront of global weather and climate science for 150 years through continued investment in our scientific expertise and supercomputing technology.

We use more than 10 million weather observations a day, an advanced atmospheric model and a high-performance supercomputer to create 3,000 tailored forecasts and briefings a day.

These are delivered to a huge range of customers from the Government, to businesses, the general public, armed forces and other organisations.

Investing in technology, scientific expertise and verification

  • IBM supercomputer upgraded 2012 (1,200 trillion calculations per second).
  • Over 500 scientists working across weather and climate science.
  • Scientific papers co-authored with scientists from 144 institutions across 44 countries, peer reviewed and published.
  • Deterministic and probabilistic forecasting uses latest multi-model lagging, blending and filtering. This means that our forecast data is as up-to-date and as accurate as possible.
  • Dedicated verification group focused on measuring and maintaining highest accuracy.
  • Verification can be produced for single site, gridded and area based summary forecasts from both deterministic and probabilistic models.

Model developments

High resolution models allow forecasting of more detailed weather events together with improved accuracy around the timing of those events. Developments to the resolution of our three major models which will drive continuous improvements in accuracy:

Image showing developments to our models Developments to the resolution of our three major models

Benefits of moving to higher-resolution models

  • Better description of physical processes.
  • Improved forecasting of convective precipitation (for example thunderstorms, squalls, etc).
  • Improved accuracy of night-time temperatures.
  • More likely to capture extreme events.

Over the last 4 years, we have consistently out-performed five of the major operational Numerical Weather Prediction centres. The verification results are plotted as a difference to ECMWF (European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts). ECMWF is an intergovernmental organisation that provides non operational weather forecast data, products, and supercomputing facilities to the meteorological organisations of its Member States. The Met Office optimise ECMWF data in our BestData blend alongside our own in order to gain benefits from both models.

Verification results for 5 operational Numerical Weather Prediction Centres vs ECMWF Verification results for 5 operational Numerical Weather Prediction Centres vs ECMWF

Forecast developments and what this means to our customers

Post processing has seen continued year on year improvements in accuracy across our range of commercial, public and government products.

Utilities

Over 90% of our next day hourly temperature forecasts are correct within 2 °C, which means our energy customers can confidently forecast energy demand helping to reduce costs and ensure their customers receive an uninterrupted supply.

Renewables

Virtual Met Mast™ provides accurate long-term wind assessment to help support both onshore and offshore site selection and investment decisions. Verified against 150 years of site data from more than 70 sites in the UK and Europe. Virtual Met Mast™ demonstrates excellent correlation against actual measured data resulting in average wind speed estimates which are regularly within 0.4 m/s of monitored data at existing wind farm sites.

Marine

Our marine Inshore Waters and Shipping forecasts produced for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency are correct to within 1 Beaufort Force on over 95% and 92% of occasions respectively. This level of accuracy is critical to the MCA's remit to provide Maritime Safety Information to ships at sea.

Aviation

Airlines use our upper-air wind forecasts to predict flight times at cruising altitude. For transatlantic flights during 2012, the average difference between the predicted flight time and the actual flight time was about one minute. This means that our aviation customers can accurately calculate the fuel load required for each flight.

Road

Our OpenRoad service for the 2011/12 winter season achieved over 90% frost detection rate. This helps our customers make informed decisions in order to keep their road networks safe, open and moving.

Hazards

We produce guidance for the Heavy Rainfall Alert Service that the Flood Forecasting Centre (FFC) provides to the Environment Agency. During 2012, Met Office forecasters in the FFC issued 6,717 alerts. An alert was issued for nearly 8 out of every 10 heavy rainfall events. The chance of an alert being issued when a heavy rainfall event did not occur was less than 8%. These early, accurate and integrated flood warnings enable those in the emergency response community to take effective action when it matters.

Our approach to verification

At the Met Office, verification requirements are central to our product development process. We provide tailored product verification for the thresholds that are important to our customers. We work closely with our customers to ensure they fully understand and obtain full benefit from the verification they receive.

For more information on our verification process, please speak to your Account Manager or contact us for more information.

Last updated: 28 November 2013

Downloads

  • PDF Accuracy fact sheet (PDF, 2 MB)
    More information on how we are continually developing our forecasts