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The accuracy and detail of weather predictions are soon to be improved when the Met Office unveils their new supercomputer in the latter half of 2015.

The £97 million machine is a long way away from the methods of prediction used in the 1960s, where the forecast was based on observations and deriving analogues and patterns from this information. The premise was that with enough data, forecasters could simply look through the record for a day with a similar atmosphere and assume the weather would take similar turns.

While this worked in some instances, it did not account for small fluctuations in atmosphere that could radically change the weather. The importance of a supercomputer is in our ability to move beyond the forecasts of the past, based on archives of data, and to combine this statistical data with mathematical models that predict the future with the awareness of elements of uncertainty in predictions.

For Mathematics applicants, investigating the equations which meteorologists use to predict weather would be a useful exercise, while Geography applicants would do well to read further on operational meteorology and the practical benefits of good weather prediction.

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Oxbridge Applications. 14 – 16 Waterloo Place, London, SW1Y 4AR


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