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How the COVID-19 affects the accuracy of weather forecasts

The weather forecasts have become less accurate during the pandemic coronavirus due to the reduction of commercial flights, according to the findings of a study published in the United Kingdom.

So revealed a research of the University of Lancaster, which showed that between march and may of 2020 were lost between 50 percent and 75 percent of the weather observations that provided the commercial aircraft, due to the interruption of flights product of the pandemic.

The aircraft usually delivered weather forecasts to record information about the air temperature, relative humidity, air pressure, and wind along its flight path. With a significantly smaller number of flights, the forecasts have become less accurate and the impact is more pronounced in the time, according to the study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

The program relay of meteorological data from aircraft is comprised of more than 3,500 devices and 40 commercial airlines, which typically provide more than 700,000 weather reports daily.

When the researcher Ying Chen of the Environment Centre of Lancaster compared the accuracy of forecasts of march through may of 2020 with the same periods in 2017, 2018 and 2019, discovered inaccuracies for data such as temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and air pressure.

Economic impact

Un termómetro en una praderaUnsplash

The weather forecasts are essential not only to decide the clothing, but also for the functioning of the economy, ” explains Chen. For example, the accuracy may affect agriculture, as well as in the energy sector and the stability of the electricity grid.

The wind turbines depend on accurate forecasts of wind speed and energy companies depend on these forecasts to predict the load of daily energy.

“If this uncertainty exceeds a threshold, it will introduce an unstable voltage to the electrical network. That could lead to a blackout, and I think that this is the last thing that we want to see in this pandemic,” says Chen.

Most affected regions

The regions most affected by the reduction in the weather forecasts have been those with air traffic is normally heavy, such as the united States, the southeast of China and Australia, as well as isolated regions such as the Sahara desert, Greenland and Antarctica.

Western europe is a notable exception: their weather forecasts have not been affected, despite the fact that the number of aircraft in the region was reduced in 80 to 90 percent.

The researcher estimates that this region has been able to avoid inaccuracies because it has a network densely populated of weather stations on land and measurements of balloons to compensate for the lack of aircraft.

The research of Chen also found that the forecasts of rain have not been significantly affected, because these have been based on satellite observations.

“It is a good lesson that tells us that we should introduce more observation sites, especially in regions with sparse observation data. This will help us to mitigate the impact of this type of emergency global in the future,” he added.

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