New climate reanalysis simulates Great Storm of 1987

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16 October 2017

A new climate reanalysis produced by the ECMWF-run Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) has reconstructed the Great Storm that hit Britain in October 1987 in much more detail than was possible in the 1980s.

The ERA5 climate reanalysis combines meteorological observations into globally complete fields using the laws of physics embodied in its data assimilation system.

The high level of detail it provides has been made possible by the dramatic evolution of computing power over the last few decades.

In addition, there have been many advances in our understanding of physical processes and in the way we exploit available weather observations.

This applies in particular to the use made of satellite observations, which were already available at the time. Together with information from other sources, such as weather stations, ships, buoys, weather balloons and many more, ERA5 exploits all available information from 30 years ago to the maximum extent possible today.

The result is a detailed, hourly simulation of the evolution of this notoriously difficult to capture storm over Western Europe, now showing the signature of the sting jet that made it so destructive.