weathermap
Netatmos weather map gives an impression of the density of private weather stations in Oslo. Source: https://weathermap.netatmo.com/

Private weather observations improve temperature forecasts on Yr

MET Norway and NRK use private weather observations to improve the weather forecasts on Yr.

Today, The Norwegian Meteorological Institute (MET Norway) and The Norwegian Broadcasting Company (NRK) announced significant improvements to the temperature forecasts on Yr. Scientists at MET Norway have developed a methodology that employs weather instruments owned by private citizens to increase and extend the observation coverage, also to regions far from official weather stations.

Jørn Kristiansen
Jørn Kristiansen

Taking advantage of the novel observations, the temperature forecasts are now updated every hour, compared to the current six-hour frequency. The forecast improvements are most noticeable during Nordic winter conditions, and it is expected that the new method is able to remove one in two large forecast errors.

– These results are very encouraging and show the added value of a denser observation network. This is just the start of a development that can revolutionize weather forecasting, explains Jørn Kristiansen, Director of the Development Centre for Weather Forecasting at MET Norway.

Great added value

The vast array of observations coming from emerging collaborations and novel devices presents Yr with great opportunities.

The Personal Weather Station, conceived by smart home company Netatmo, measures hyperlocal weather data in real-time. Netatmo Personal Weather Station owners can make their data publically available on the Netatmo Weathermap, creating a massive pool of data for scientists and weather enthusiasts to tap in to. The MET Norway scientists have used these data for a deeper analysis and understanding of local weather conditions.  

– With the Weather Station, Netatmo has developed the world’s biggest weather observation community. It is exciting to see how Internet of Things and science can team up to positively shape the future of weather forecasting. We are very proud that the statistics provided by the Personal Weather Station enhance a publicly run weather forecast which will affect millions, says Fred Potter, CEO of Netatmo.

Yr also uses data from Bergensværet​, a collaboration between Bergen municipality and the University of Bergen, where a number of schools in Bergen have been equipped with automatic weather stations to learn about the local weather and climate.

– It is great that Bergensværet and our network of Davis weather stations can contribute to improve the real-time weather forecasts. From an academic point of view, it is a new challenge to develop methods that extract useful information from non-conventional observations and effectively employ them in the value chain of weather forecasting, tells Nils Gunnar Kvamstø, Head of Department, Geophysical Institute at the University of Bergen.

In combination with the other data sources, observations from the Norwegian Public Roads Administration, the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE), the Railway Infrastructure Company (Bane NOR), and the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO) come to better use.

The scientists at MET Norway have solved the problem of quality-controlling this set of diverse data. The quality-control is dynamic and performed every hour.

– This means that a weather station in a garden may be included in the forecasts in the morning, but not in the afternoon if it is receiving direct sunlight, explains Kristiansen. The weather model used in the Nordic countries forecast the weather on a 2.5 x 2.5-kilometer grid mesh. The new and improved temperature forecasts increase the degree of detail to 1 x 1 kilometer.

Huge potential

Temperaturvarsel-Yr
From Yr's app

As more people use smart devices for observations, scientists can diversify the observation usage and continue to improve the weather forecasts. MET Norway’s own observation network will continue to provide the basis and anchor in this development.

– The observation density is highest in densely populated areas. The benefit of new stations will be largest in areas where there currently are few or no observations, such as the countryside and the mountains, says Kristiansen.

The new temperature forecasts are available on Yr (mobile and web) and from the API for downloading free meteorological data.

The research and development have been done in collaboration with the RadPro project, which is funded by the Research Council together with several hydropower producers, and is led by EnergiNorge.