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5 strange problems that arise because of all of this



1

Nobody knows what the weather forecast actually is

Probably the least known feature of regular air traffic is that it collects weather data for the forecasts you see on your phone every day. In order to collect data that the pilot constantly needs, the instruments of an airplane always measure things like air pressure, temperature, wind direction and speed. In the United States and Europe, the computer models of meteorologists collect this data and take it into account for their forecasts. The world’s leading European center for medium-term weather forecasting (EZMW) [We swear that’s a real organization.]) says it’s the second most important input after satellite data, so losing it is a pretty big deal.

Another inconvenient truth.HAL9001 / UnsplashAnother inconvenient truth.

The thing with aircraft data is that it fills areas that other sources don’t cover, and right now we have … basically almost no idea what’s going on there. Airplane data has dropped 75-80% worldwide, but there are large regional differences. For example, it only dropped 25% in the U.S. (mainly because the U.S., unlike Europe, had many cargo planes flying), but more than 90% in the southern hemisphere. Nevertheless, there is a big loss everywhere – the only difference is whether it is simply large or almost complete. How does that affect our ability to predict the weather?

Scientists can’t agree exactly how much it does, but it seems to do it something. The ECMWM says there could be a “noticeable” drop in forecast accuracy, although the NOAA says they haven’t seen a significant drop (but this could be because US air travel has not decreased as much as European traffic) . However, the NOAA, the EZMW and other authorities are busy closing the gaps. You order more weather balloon starts than usual and collect data from an air observation network maintained by a private company. Basically, you should make weather forecasts these days with a super big pinch of salt … you know if you can actually get outside now.

Image above: Wesley Gibbs / Unsplash, Derek Malou / Unsplash




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