From Richardson to early numerical weather prediction

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Title: From Richardson to early numerical weather prediction
Authors: Lynch, Peter
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Date: Dec-2010
Abstract: The development of computer models for numerical simulation of the atmosphere and oceans is one of the great scientific triumphs of the past fifty years. These models have added enormously to our understanding of the complex processes in the atmosphere and oceans. The consequences for humankind of ongoing climate change will be far-reaching. Earth system models are the best means we have of predicting the future of our climate. The basic ideas of numerical forecasting and climate modeling were developed about a century ago, long before the first electronic computer was constructed. However, advances on several fronts were necessary before numerical prediction could be put into practice. A fuller understanding of atmospheric dynamics allowed the development of simplified systems of equations; regular observations of the free atmosphere provided the initial conditions; stable finite difference schemes were developed; and powerful electronic computers provided a practical means of carrying out the calculations required to predict the changes in the weather. In this chapter, we trace the history of computer forecasting from Richardson’s prodigious manual computation, through the ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) integrations to the early days of operational numerical weather prediction and climate modeling. The useful range of deterministic prediction is increasing by about one day each decade. We set the scene for the story of the remarkable progress in weather forecasting and in climate modeling over the past fifty years, which will be treated in subsequent chapters.
Funding Details: Not applicable
Type of material: Book Chapter
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Copyright (published version): Cambridge University Press 2011
Keywords: Numerical weather prediction
Subject LCSH: Numerical weather forecasting
Climatology--Computer programs
Language: en
Status of Item: Peer reviewed
Is part of: Donner, L., Schubert, W. and Somerville, R. (eds.). The Development of Atmospheric General Circulation Models : Complexity, Synthesis and Computation
ISBN: 9780521190060
Appears in Collections:Mathematics and Statistics Research Collection

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