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NASA data could lead to more accurate weather forecasts

UTA project uses existing NASA data to make better predictions about extreme weather

NASA data could lead to more accurate weather forecasts
2023-05-24
(Press-News.org) A University of Texas at Arlington civil engineering researcher will use a NASA grant to help forecasters better predict extreme weather events using a variety of existing NASA data sources.

Yu Zhang, associate professor in the Department of Civil Engineering, said the $638,000 grant will use ocean circulation data, atmospheric conditions and current weather information to make longer-range forecasting more reliable. Having a more accurate forecast could help officials make better decisions about the state’s water resources—for example, knowing when to release water from reservoirs.

“Using NASA data, we want to increase the accuracy of forecasts for extreme wet and dry conditions,” Zhang said. “It takes two to three weeks for water released from reservoirs to travel from North Texas to the coast. Reservoir operators have to take that into account when releasing water up here because it has an impact south of us. We will determine if the data we have available can help us predict those events. We have to have a better forecast lead time.”

The project is titled “Improving Subseasonal to Seasonal (S2S) Hydrometeorological Predictions for the State of Texas Through Synergistic Infusion of Remotely Sensed SST (Simulation and Software Technology) and Land Surface Variables to a Coupled Modeling System.”

S2S refers to a range of forecast lead times associated with weather and climate forecasts. Currently, there is a gap in the capabilities of operational forecast systems that limits the accuracy of forecasts at the S2S range. A consortium of federal agencies, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has empowered NASA to place a high priority on improving S2S forecasts to address existing and emerging needs in various economic sectors, including water supply. 

Typical weather forecasting spans 14-15 days, while climate forecasting generally is for the next three to six months under average conditions. Existing NASA data could help improve S2S forecasts.

“NASA wants to see how the data collected through existing missions can be used to improve forecasts to guide their future missions,” Zhang said.

He believes the new information his project produces could help determine the potential impacts of land surface temperature and soil moisture in the spring on the emergence and intensity of summertime droughts.

“Over the last 10 years, we’ve had more extreme weather events, and so we should be able to harness all that data to understand the contributions from land and ocean to the occurrence of these events,” Zhang said.

Melanie Sattler, interim chair and professor in the Department of Civil Engineering, said Zhang’s work is needed in Texas because the state’s weather is so varied.

“Finding out how NASA data can be used to improve forecasts will inform the development of future weather models whose forecasts will contribute to saving lives and property,” she said.

END

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[Press-News.org] NASA data could lead to more accurate weather forecasts
UTA project uses existing NASA data to make better predictions about extreme weather