BoM using GPS to improve weather forecasting

Using data gathered from GPS, the Bureau of Meteorology and RMIT researchers can relay weather forecasts 10 hours earlier

The Bureau of Meteorology and researchers at RMIT are using GPS technology to improve the accuracy of weather forecasts.

The GPS data and low earth orbit satellites will provide forecasters with more in-depth information for weather forecasting computer models, including around 100,000 current weather observations from 30 to 40 satellite instruments.

“What we’ve found through our work with RMIT’s SPACE research team is that the GPS data improves the real-time temperature field and the cross-calibration of the data from a number of satellite instruments. This in turn significantly increases the usable quality of the satellite observations,” said John Le Marshall, RMIT adjunct professor and research program leader at the Bureau of Meteorology, in a statement.

“We are actually able to measure the amount of bending in the GPS beam as it passes through the atmosphere. We can then use that knowledge to more accurately measure atmospheric temperatures and use this to improve temperature fields and calibrate other satellite readings.”

The additional information gathered from the GPS data will provide more accurate weather forecasts up to 10 hours earlier.

Professor Kefei Zhang, director of the RMIT SPACE Research Centre, said a lack of ground-based meteorological observation stations and a shortage of accurate surface level data from oceans and polar regions has previously limited weather forecasting accuracy.

“This is particularly true for Australia, where people live along long coastlines but forecasters can only draw on very limited measurements from the middle of the continent and surrounding oceans,” Zhang said.

“GPS can fill that gap. It’s revolutionary technology. It’s the missing link.”

Follow Stephanie McDonald on Twitter: @stephmcdonald0

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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