Scientists to focus on tropical weather prediction ahead of new space mission

28 June 2016

ESA Aeolus satellite, ESA/ATG medialab

ECMWF is preparing to host a workshop on tropical weather prediction and tropical circulation, inspired by a new space mission dedicated to gathering information about global winds.

The workshop will bring together modellers and data assimilation scientists to provide guidance on how we can advance our understanding of the tropical circulation and tropical forecasting. It is being organised jointly with ESA.

ESA’s Aeolus satellite is scheduled to launch in 2017 and will provide much-needed wind profile measurements that can be used for model diagnostics and data assimilation, especially in the tropics.

Weather prediction and climate models have the largest errors in the tropical region. This also affects extra-tropical predictability, because of the significant tropical/extra-tropical interaction on medium and long time scales. There is a need to improve both modelling and data assimilation in the tropical region, guided by observations.

Aeolus is a polar-orbiting satellite that will provide wind profile observations from all regions of the world.

“Measurements will be most valuable in the tropics and over the oceans,” says Lars Isaksen, one of the ECMWF team working with ESA to prepare the mission. “There are very few wind profile measurements in the tropics, and for that region wind observations are more important than temperature observations,” he explains.

The prospect of this new source of observations has inspired ECMWF and ESA to hold a joint workshop in November 2016 for modellers and data assimilation scientists. The workshop will discuss how to make progress in the areas of model parametrization, observation usage, data assimilation, and the coupling of atmosphere, ocean, wave, and land models in the tropical region.

Also on the agenda will be how best to use the Aeolus wind data and other observations in data assimilation systems and for the evaluation of forecast models.

“It is a joint workshop because Aeolus is so unique and important to both ESA and ECMWF,” says Lars. “ECMWF is heavily involved in the Aeolus mission because we expect the observations to improve our forecasts and the understanding of tropical circulation,” he explains. “This is important for weather prediction from daily to seasonal prediction ranges.”

Aeolus data is also expected to help scientists improve climate models in the tropics, by helping them to understand the circulation patterns better.

More information

ECMWF/ESA workshop: Tropical modelling, observations and assimilation, 7 to 10 November 2016

ECMWF’s role in the Aeolus mission

ESA’s Aeolus mission


Main image: ESA/ATG medialab