Arctic Weather Data Improves Japan Cold Waves Forecast
For the past several years, extreme winter weather coming in from the Arctic, regularly occurred in East Asia, North America, and Europe. The weather, including heavy snow and severe winters, impacted many people. Researchers from Japan’s National Institute of Polar Research (NIPR), the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC), and other organizations teamed up to simulate the cold snaps affecting Japan the east coast of North America. The study was conducted in February 2015, and the results of the survey helped improve cold wave forecast accuracy.
Researchers wanted to accurately predict these cold waves coming in from the Arctic to prepare people of the weather to come. The data gathered would help improve the forecasting done by meteorologists. But, according to EurekAlert! the “acquiring [of] such data involves significant personnel and economic cost.” Dr. Kazutoshi Sato and Dr. Jun Inoue of the NIPR and Dr. Akira Yamazaki of JAMSTEC led a group of international researchers that ran simulations of Arctic cold waves that hit Japan and North America.
The data collected was larger than usual because of the Norwegian research vessel Lance obtaining upper atmosphere meteorological information in the Arctic and the frequent data collection done by the “land-based observation stations around the Arctic.” The researchers used the Earth Simulator, a supercomputer, for the simulated forecasts. Using the Earth Simulator helped the team recreate cold waves by using the data available in 2015 and a “normal” year’s data where less was collected. During February 2015, both Japan and North America experienced extreme winter weather that affected millions of people.
The Lance is a research and expedition vessel that is used by the Norwegian Polar Institute. The ship usually sails around the Arctic but has been known to operate in the Antarctic for expeditions. Based in Norway, the vessel was launched in 1978 as a fishing boat but eventually was retired because of costs. The Norwegian Hydrographic Service acquired the ship in 1981 and repurposed for research, expeditions, and other purposes.
The results collected from the Lance helped the researchers “significantly” improve the cold wave forecasts. The “meteorological observation” from the Arctic can help people by lessening the winter weather in “mid-latitude areas with concentrated populations,” such as Japan and North America, stated Associate Professor Inoue. Inoue hopes that with Japan’s help the accuracy of cold wave forecasts will continue. More research and data from other countries is needed.
By Cheryl Werber
Photo Courtesy NIPR/JAMSTEC