Through Rain and Shine, 170 Years of the Met Office.

Through Rain and Shine, 170 Years of the Met Office.

Posted on 13 Mar 2024

Over the years, weather forecasting has transformed from an art based on folklore and intuition to a science driven by complex models and advanced observations. At the heart of this evolution stands the Met Office, a British institution with a rich history that laid the foundations of modern meteorology. 

In our latest blog post, we will take a brief look at the rich and fascinating history of the Met Office who is celebrating 170 years of weather innovation.

Starting through necessity: (1850s - 1890s)

In the mid-19th century, weather forecasting relied heavily on proverbs and local observations. However, disasters like the sinking of the Royal Charter (one of the fastest and most famous of the emigrant ships operating during the years of the Australian Gold Rush) in 1859 prompted Vice-Admiral FitzRoy (famous as captain of HMS Beagle) to found the Meteorological Department of the Board of Trade, later to be known as the Met Office. 

He established a network of coastal stations collecting observations, pioneered storm warnings, and even introduced the first public weather forecasts in 1861. The network of observatories became extensive, there was even a constantly staffed one at the top of the UK’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis, until 1904. Though limited in accuracy by today’s standards, these efforts laid the groundwork for the significant future developments.

The Rise of Science: Embracing Telegraphy and Synoptic Charts (1890s - 1940s)

The late 19th century saw a revolution in communication with the telegraph. Weather data now flowed instantly, allowing for the creation of synoptic charts, displaying real-time atmospheric conditions across vast regions. This enabled meteorologists to analyze weather patterns and make more informed predictions. 

The scientist Lewis Fry Richardson began exploring numerical weather prediction (NWP), the foundation for modern-day computer models. In the early 20th century, weather forecasts were largely based on intuition and observations, often leading to inaccurate predictions. Richardson, however, believed that the complex laws of physics governing the atmosphere could be harnessed to create a more precise method. He developed a system for dividing the atmosphere into grids and applying mathematical equations to predict how pressure, temperature, and wind would change over time.

Breaking Barriers: Computers and Satellites Take Center Stage (1940s - 1990s)

The advent of computers in the mid-20th century marked a pivotal point. The Met Office developed some of the world's first operational NWP models, utilizing complex calculations to predict weather conditions beyond days in advance. The launch of satellites in the 1960s provided invaluable global-scale observations, filling crucial data gaps and improving forecast accuracy. The Met Office, along with other international institutions, collaborated on advancements in satellite technology and data interpretation.

The Information Age: From Big Data to Public Outreach (1990s - Present)

The past few decades have been marked by explosive advancements in computing power and data availability. The Met Office harnessed this revolution, incorporating sophisticated statistical techniques and ensemble weather forecasting, where multiple possible outcomes are generated to capture the inherent uncertainty in weather predictions. 

The OpenWeather Model

As has been shown by the long and fascinating history of the Met Office, meteorology is constantly evolving to suit the ever increasing need to have reliable, accurate and pertinent weather data. 

OpenWeather's sophisticated machine learning-driven numerical weather model operates with a high resolution of up to 500 meters, enabling users to capture nuanced local climate conditions and develop precise, efficient solutions.

The model's resolution ranges from 500 meters for UK territories to 2 kilometers for other regions globally. It leverages various data sources including radars, models from global meteorological agencies such as the Met Office, NOAA, and ECMWF, weather satellites, and an extensive network of weather stations.

Updated every 10 minutes, our model furnishes comprehensive data on vital weather parameters including temperature, precipitation, wind, pressure, among others.

Our technologies are fueled by DEKER™ -  serving as a petabyte-scale database framework and storage engine for multidimensional arrays. This open-source product is versatile, suitable for various solutions demanding extensive data management and manipulation of multidimensional arrays.

OpenWeather incorporates the incredibly detailed, high-quality Met Office radar data in our minute-to-minute forecast, giving unprecedented levels of accuracy.

About OpenWeather:

OpenWeather provides weather data for any location on the globe using a proprietary hyperlocal forecasting model with a resolution from 500 m to 2 km, globally. More than 6,000,000 customers from logistics, agriculture, insurance, energy, retail, and many other sectors, are working with the company's weather products. 

OpenWeather cooperates with global meteorological agencies such as MetOffice and NOAA, and enhances its model with data from radars, weather stations and satellites. The company provides great availability of service at 99.9% for enterprise-level products. 

The products can be easily integrated into complex IT systems and are ideal for ML analytic systems. OpenWeather is a member of Royal Meteorological Society and an Achilles-certified supplier. OpenWeather ethical initiatives include support of educators and students, not-for-profit subscriptions for the general public to increase weather awareness, and recent Ukrainian donation programme.

For more information on how to gain access to our OpenWeather products, please email us.

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