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Measurement Uncertainty

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Rain or Shine Today

Rain or Shine Today

Credit: NASA Goddard
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gsfc/8971448230/
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Most people get up in the morning and check some kind of weather report before planning their day (others just look out the window to see what’s happening). What the report may say is something like “30% chance of rain this morning” – not a specific “it will rain”. There is a certain level of uncertainty to predicting the weather.

News You Can Use

  • Weather reports are available from a variety of sources. Local radio and television stations broadcast reports, usually during their news programs. Newspapers print reports, but they may be out of date since the paper is printed late at night and then distributed. Increasingly, people get their weather news on their cell phones or on the internet. Weather services update their forecasts frequently, so they are the most current sources of weather information.
  • Credit: Tama Leaver
    Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tamaleaver/6307680132/
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    Weather apps instantly deliver updated information about the weather for any city in the world [Figure2]

     

  • Many TV stations have at least one weather person on staff. This individual may be a trained meteorologist (with a college degree in the subject) or someone who has learned how to organize and assemble local weather information for broadcast. The term “meteorologist” should be restricted to those individuals with a degree in the subject.
  • Weather data from around the world is gathered using a variety of high technologies, including satellites and radar. This information is fed to the supercomputers at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction in Maryland. There the numbers are crunched, trends are analyzed, and predictions are made.
  • Watch a video that explains some “behind the scenes” information about broadcasting a weather report: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_mvYJlypfo 

Explore More

Use the links below to learn more about weather prediction. Then answer the following questions.

  1. What is a forensic meteorologist?
  2. What are TV weather people called who do not have a meteorology degree?
  3. What is used to collect weather information from the upper atmosphere?
  4. What is chaos theory?
  5. What are two areas of weather forecasting that still need improvement?

Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: NASA Goddard; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gsfc/8971448230/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: Tama Leaver; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tamaleaver/6307680132/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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