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Alan Thorpe and David Rogers

Abstract

The Global Weather Enterprise (GWE) encompasses the scientific research, technology, observations, modeling, forecasting, and forecast products that need to come together to provide accurate and reliable weather information and services that save lives, protect infrastructure, and enhance economic output. It is a value chain from weather observations to, ultimately, the creation of actionable analysis-and-forecast weather information of huge benefit to society. The GWE is a supreme exemplar of the value of international cooperation, public–private engagement, and scientific and technological know-how. It has been a successful enterprise, but one that has ever-increasing requirements for continual improvement as population density increases and climate change takes place so that the impacts of weather hazards can be mitigated as far as possible. However, the GWE is undergoing a period of significant change arising, for example, from the growing need for more accurate and reliable weather information, advances coming from science and technology, and the expansion of private sector capabilities. These changes offer real opportunities for the GWE but also present a number of obstacles and risks that could, if not addressed, stifle this development, adversely impacting the societies it aims to serve. This essay aims to catalyze the GWE to address the issues collectively, by dialogue, engagement, and mutual understanding.

Open access
Alan Thorpe and David Rogers
Open access
Alan J. Thorpe, Hans Volkert, and Michał J. Ziemiański

Two lines of thinking concerning fluid rotation—using either vorticity or circulation—emerged from the nineteenth-century work of Helmholtz and Thomson (Lord Kelvin), respectively. Vilhelm Bjerknes introduced an extension of Kelvin's ideas on circulation into geophysics. In this essay a historical perspective will be given on what has become known as the “Bjerknes circulation theorem.” Bjerknes wrote several papers on this topic, the first being in 1898. As Bjerknes noted, a Polish physicist, Ludwik Silberstein, had previously published an equivalent result concerning vorticity generation in 1896. Silberstein's work had built on an earlier paper by J. R. Schiitz in 1895. In his 1898 paper Bjerknes describes many possible applications of the theorem to meteorology and oceanography including to extratropical cyclones, a subject that made his “Bergen School” famous.

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Alain Joly, Dave Jorgensen, Melvyn A. Shapiro, Alan Thorpe, Pierre Bessemoulin, Keith A. Browning, Jean-Pierre Cammas, Jean-Pierre Chalon, Sidney A. Clough, Kerry A. Emanuel, Laurence Eymard, Robert Gall, Peter H. Hildebrand, Rolf H. Langland, Yvon Lemaître, Peter Lynch, James A. Moore, P. Ola G. Persson, Chris Snyder, and Roger M. Wakimoto

The Fronts and Atlantic Storm-Track Experiment (FASTEX) will address the life cycle of cyclones evolving over the North Atlantic Ocean in January and February 1997. The objectives of FASTEX are to improve the forecasts of end-of-storm-track cyclogenesis (primarily in the eastern Atlantic but with applicability to the Pacific) in the range 24 to 72 h, to enable the testing of theoretical ideas on cyclone formation and development, and to document the vertical and the mesoscale structure of cloud systems in mature cyclones and their relation to the dynamics. The observing system includes ships that will remain in the vicinity of the main baroclinic zone in the central Atlantic Ocean, jet aircraft that will fly and drop sondes off the east coast of North America or over the central Atlantic Ocean, turboprop aircraft that will survey mature cyclones off Ireland with dropsondes, and airborne Doppler radars, including ASTRAIA/ELDORA. Radiosounding frequency around the North Atlantic basin will be increased, as well as the number of drifting buoys. These facilities will be activated during multiple-day intensive observing periods in order to observe the same meteorological systems at several stages of their life cycle. A central archive will be developed in quasi-real time in Toulouse, France, thus allowing data to be made widely available to the scientific community.

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Paolo M. Ruti, Oksana Tarasova, Julia H. Keller, Greg Carmichael, Øystein Hov, Sarah C. Jones, Deon Terblanche, Cheryl Anderson-Lefale, Ana P. Barros, Peter Bauer, Véronique Bouchet, Guy Brasseur, Gilbert Brunet, Phil DeCola, Victor Dike, Mariane Diop Kane, Christopher Gan, Kevin R. Gurney, Steven Hamburg, Wilco Hazeleger, Michel Jean, David Johnston, Alastair Lewis, Peter Li, Xudong Liang, Valerio Lucarini, Amanda Lynch, Elena Manaenkova, Nam Jae-Cheol, Satoru Ohtake, Nadia Pinardi, Jan Polcher, Elizabeth Ritchie, Andi Eka Sakya, Celeste Saulo, Amith Singhee, Ardhasena Sopaheluwakan, Andrea Steiner, Alan Thorpe, and Moeka Yamaji

Abstract

Whether on an urban or planetary scale, covering time scales of a few minutes or a few decades, the societal need for more accurate weather, climate, water, and environmental information has led to a more seamless thinking across disciplines and communities. This challenge, at the intersection of scientific research and society’s need, is among the most important scientific and technological challenges of our time. The “Science Summit on Seamless Research for Weather, Climate, Water, and Environment” organized by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 2017, has brought together researchers from a variety of institutions for a cross-disciplinary exchange of knowledge and ideas relating to seamless Earth system science. The outcomes of the Science Summit, and the interactions it sparked, highlight the benefit of a seamless Earth system science approach. Such an approach has the potential to break down artificial barriers that may exist due to different observing systems, models, time and space scales, and compartments of the Earth system. In this context, the main future challenges for research infrastructures have been identified. A value cycle approach has been proposed to guide innovation in seamless Earth system prediction. The engagement of researchers, users, and stakeholders will be crucial for the successful development of a seamless Earth system science that meets the needs of society.

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