Blog on Math Blogs

Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Forecast: Hazy (with 50% chance of error)," by John Marchese.Discover, June 2001.

The article quotes weather service director Jack Kelly as declaring, "Numericalweather modeling is the most unsung scientific achievement of the 20thcentury." But although weather forecasts have become more accurate with moredata collection and computer modeling, the fact remains that meteorologists arediagnosticians. They must ultimately use their experience and instincts alongwith what computer models predict. The author explains a discovery made bymeteorologist Edward Lorenz in 1961, which inspired a new field of mathematics:chaos theory, in which very small changes in initial conditions can have verylarge and unexpected results. Richard Anthes, current President of theUniversity Corporation for Atmospheric Research, believes that more and newtechnology will overcome chaos in weather modeling. He thinks that the federalgovernment must develop and launch hundreds of new satellites, that a massiveincrease in data collection is needed, that models need to better translate thefluid motion of the skies, and that more computers and computer power arenecessary.

--- Annette Emerson