How Big Data Can Boost Weather Forecasting | visual data |

Increasing evidence of climate change worldwide is prompting governments and scientists to take action to protect people and property from its effects. But, to take effective action, they need to know understand a lot more about the weather–everything from what’s going to happen tomorrow to what’s coming next year.

IBM scientists are taking the lead in bringing the most sophisticated data analytics to bear on weather forecasting. They established at test bed in the New York City area, where they set up a three-dimensional grid of thousands of blocks. That makes it possible to run calculations that produce very precise weather forecasts for a particular locale. Using this capability, the team predicted with remarkable accuracy the snowfall totals in New York City during the snow storm that blanked the northeastern United States in February–and also to predict accurately when the snowfall would start and stop.

The Research team is putting their algorithms to work on behalf of cities around the world. For instance, Rio de Janeiro has recurring flooding and landslide problems in many hilly neighborhoods, so the researchers used data to create a mathematical model of how storms are likely to unfold in Rio. With it, they can predict up to 40 hours ahead of time how much rain will fall in a particular location—with 90% accuracy.