New Nordic collaboration to improve weather forecasts

6.11.2017 13:10

The Finnish Meteorological Institute has begun the production of weather models in collaboration with Sweden and Norway. The goal of the collaboration is to produce more accurate weather forecasts and provide a better understanding of the uncertainty of forecasts.

MEPS sets

MEPS sets

Beginning in September 2017, the Finnish Meteorological Institute has begun conducting operative weather model production in collaboration with the meteorological institutes of Sweden and Norway. In practical terms, the collaboration means that the meteorological institutes of Finland, Sweden and Norway will utilise the same forecasting system that is based on the HARMONIE weather forecast model in their forecasts, when previously they utilised different models.

"The long-lasting collaboration between the meteorological institutes of Finland, Sweden and Norway will become even closer with this joint weather forecast model," says Juhani Damski, Director-General of the Finnish Meteorological Institute. "Our common goal is to provide even more accurate weather forecasts to our customers under all conditions, which will require investments in high-performance computing. This collaboration aims for cost-effectiveness in both investments and development work."

The MetCoOp (Meteorological Co-operation on Operational Numerical Weather Prediction) project combines the development of weather forecast models and operative weather predictions in a completely new way. The Finnish Meteorological Institute has a lot of experience in collaborating with different countries on the development of scientific models, but the truly unique aspects of this project are its operative collaboration and joint model prediction production processes.

The production of operative weather models covers the entire weather forecasting process. The process begins by entering a weather observation into the data system. Weather observations are utilised in defining the initial state of the weather model, after which the numerical weather model produces the forecast. The forecast is moved into a production chain and various databases, until finally it is used to support the meteorologists who will produce the weather forecast.

Within this Nordic collaboration, the Finnish Meteorological Institute has begun calculating in MEPS sets (MetCoOp Ensemble Prediction System), which means conducting ten forecast runs at once instead of just a single run. The set system represents a probability forecasting system where several slightly differing forecasts are run simultaneously. The system then produces a forecast as well as an estimate on its uncertainty. The participating countries will utilise their own computational resources to produce the single members of the forecast sets and then share all their data with one another.

Operational responsibility to be handed to Finland

Sweden and Norway have utilised their common weather forecast model since 2014. The Finnish Meteorological Institute joined the MetCoOp collaboration at the beginning of this year, and the joint production process in September.

"The goal is to remove any overlapping work on the operational level. With this collaboration, we can utilise our technological and scientific expertise as well as our computational resources in a more efficient way. Our model production process will also receive new weather radar and satellite observations, which will help improve the quality of our forecasts," notes the unit Head Sami Niemelä from the Finnish Meteorological Institute on the benefits of the collaboration.

The project has two leads, and the operational responsibility will be handed to Finland at the beginning of next year. The 24/7 supervision of the system will also be handled by the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

The long-term goal is to have all the Nordic countries and the Baltic states utilise a joint operative weather forecast model in 2022. The ongoing NORDNWP project is aiming for this goal.

Further information:

Jussi Kaurola, Director of the Weather and Safety Division, tel. +358 29 539 4181, jussi.kaurola@fmi.fi
Sami Niemelä, Head of the Meteorological Research Unit, tel. +358 29 539 4172, sami.niemela@fmi.fi