Shared from Mashable
Some people were puzzled when IBM bought The Weather Company — including weather.com and several meteorological data firms — in 2015. However, since then, the company known for its Watson AI platform has been finding new applications for the weather data it is vacuuming up on a daily basis.
Now comes news that IBM is getting into the weather modeling business, putting itself on a collision course with efforts from the federal government and other private firms, such as Panasonic.
On June 21, The Weather Company announced it will collaborate with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado, to develop next-generation weather models.
The partnership between IBM and NCAR aims to predict weather at hyperlocal scales, which could have applications for severe weather warnings and even the operation of self-driving vehicles and drone delivery services, both of which will need more reliable block-by-block weather forecasts. The effort will be based in part on NCAR’s community weather model.
The partners are aiming for the new model to cover the entire globe, which would be a first.
“IBM is one of only a few organizations in the world that has the capability to develop a model to run at this global, granular scale,” said Mary Glackin, senior vice president of public-private partnerships at The Weather Company, and a former official at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
An early step for the partnership will be for IBM to take NCAR’s Model for Prediction Across Scales, known as MPAS, to run more efficiently on faster computers. This could enable forecasters to make more reliable short-term projections of small-scale weather phenomena, such as thunderstorms. The MPAS can operate on a wide range of time scales, ranging from hours to seasons.
Glackin says the partnership is not aimed at competing with U.S. and international agencies, but rather demonstrating new capabilities that they too can then take advantage of.
“With advanced physics and technology, and with a strong public-private partnership with UCAR, we’re on the cusp of a new era in weather prediction that will allow for more precise short-range forecasts as well as longer-term forecasts of seasonal weather patterns,” Glackin said in a statement.
The partnership comes at a crucial time for the U.S. weather sector. The country has fallen behind other nations, particularly the European Union, when it comes to the accuracy of the government’s main forecasting model, known as the Global Forecast System, or GFS. Instead of working to put the U.S. back in the lead, the Trump administration has proposed cutting the budget for next-generation weather modeling at NOAA, which weather experts have denounced for ceding scientific leadership to other nations.
This public-private partnership is an example of what may become more common in coming years if NOAA does not dramatically increase its forecasting capabilities, particularly given the weather intelligence needs of emerging industries using drones and autonomous vehicles.
Original Article and Images from Mashable