Joint Centre for Mesoscale Meteorology (JCMM)


Results of a questionnaire on the operational value of conceptual models (CMs) of fronts and cyclones
by N M Roberts & M V Young

The meteorologist has to assimilate a vast quantity of information when preparing a forecast for an individual site. This information can be derived, for example, from numerical models and observations from a variety of both surface-based and remotely-sensed sources. It is therefore necessary to have the tools to interpret this information so as to identify and rapidly assess the likely development of the important atmospheric features relevant to the sites for which forecasts (and particularly warnings of severe weather) are being prepared. CMs are a well-accepted vital tool for this purpose and form a fundamental part of the forecasting process.

A detailed definition along with a description of the role of CMs can be found in the COST-78 Phase 1 report. However, for the purpose of this report it can be stated that CMs are effectively a representation of complex physical and dynamical atmospheric processes ideally within a simple, flexible framework. They provide a means to relate observed or anticipated weather conditions to atmospheric phenomena of various scales. Furthermore they assist the meteorologist in comparing numerical model guidance against observations and thereby to identify errors and so make appropriate adjustments to the numerical model forecasts.

Many different conceptual models are used in forecasting centres around Europe, but little attempt has been made so far to assess the usefulness of such models on a day-to-day basis. A two-stage approach was adopted to address this problem. The first stage, which has been completed and presented in the Phase 1 Report, was to assess the current status of conceptual models used in nowcasting in Europe and to bring together all known conceptual models. The next step, identified in the Proceedings of the Bologna Workshop, was to assess just how useful these models are perceived to be by the forecasting community. With this in mind, a survey has been carried out amongst the participating COST-78 members, the results of which are presented in this report.

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