Tuesday, May 20, 2014

My first WRF run :)

The Weather Research and Forecast model (WRF) is used by scientists, researchers, businesses, and master's students to make weather forecasts or weather simulations. It is a free program that anyone can download and run on their own computers. If you decide to download and run WRF yourself I would suggest having a really good computer that is big and fast and has at least 10 processors. I recently went through the online tutorial and successfully completed my first WRF simulation. Below is an image of the forecasted temperature for the eastern United States on January 24, 2000. Pretty neat! Can you see where Florida is?

How do I explain why people should care about WRF? Well, what are the advantages of taking your broken car to a car mechanic? When your car doesn't work, you take it to a mechanic to get it fixed. The mechanic knows all the parts and pieces of your car. They diagnoses the problems that may cause your car to stop working properly, and then they repair or replaces broken parts with new and better parts to make your car run more smoothly. We use the WRF model for the same reason you take your broken car to a mechanic.

The weather forecasts are based on imperfect and broken weather models. They still work, and we make good forecasts with them, but there is still a lot of improvement we can make. Scientists who use WRF get "under the hood" of the weather model and try to diagnose the issues and make repairs. There are thousands of parts and pieces to the weather model and each piece can be fixed and improved upon. One major goal of weather research is to identify those issues and make repairs that will improve the performance of these models.

Using some Python code graciously shared online, I was able to quickly make some pretty plots of rain, winds, temperature, and pressure:

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