Research breakthrough will lead to more accurate weather forecasts

August 7, 2009
Queen's University Belfast engineers Raymond Dickie (L) and Professor Robert Cahill (R) pictured with their new filter, that for the first time, will give scientists access to a completely new range of data, leading to improved accuracy in weather forecasting. Credit: Queen's University Media Services

More accurate global weather forecasts and a better understanding of climate change are in prospect thanks to a breakthrough by engineers at Queen's University Belfast's Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT).

The ECIT team has developed a high performance electronic device - known as a dual polarized Frequency Selective Surface filter - that is to be used in future European Space Agency (ESA) missions.

The filters will be installed in instruments being developed by ESA for meteorological satellites it plans to launch between 2018 and 2020. The ESA instruments are used to detect thermal emissions in the Earth's atmosphere. The data measures temperature, humidity profiles, and gas composition, which are in turn entered into operational systems and used to forecast weather and pollution.

Lead ECIT engineer Raymond Dickie said: "Measuring just 30mm in diameter and 1/100mm thick, the devices will help to provide a much more comprehensive analysis of conditions in the Earth's atmosphere than has been possible previously.

"Up to now, spaceborne remote sensing instruments have only been capable of separating either the vertically or horizontally polarized components of naturally occurring thermal emissions from gases in the Earth's - but not both together at the same time. The invention of the new filter resolves this problem and will enable complex imaging of clouds to be undertaken for the first time at very short wavelengths."

Global patent applications have already been filed for the filters which are constructed by ECIT engineers and research staff at Queen's University's Northern Ireland Semiconductor Research Centre in Belfast. The filters have been developed as a result of a £1.2 million investment in Queen's by EPSRC, EADS Astrium and ESA to develop the technology, and have taken over 10 years to develop.

Robert Cahill, a member of the project team added: "As a result of the new filter, scientists will gain access to completely new data on a range of phenomenon including ozone depletion and the size of water particles in cirrus clouds. This in turn will enable more accurate global weather forecasts to be compiled and will provide important new insights into ."

Source: Queen's University Belfast

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not rated yet Aug 07, 2009
Go Ireland.
not rated yet Aug 08, 2009
But they are still limited by the well-known "butterfly effect" as far as prediction horizon is concerned. This simply provides a much clearer picture of the "initial conditions" upon which the outcomes depend.
3 / 5 (1) Aug 09, 2009

So long as the weather could not be reliably predicted for a few days ahead, it was difficult for the public to accept the long range forecast of Al Gore and the UN's IPCC scientists.

Anyone who doubts the Sun's control of Earth's climate will benefit from reading the book written by Stuart Clark, "The Sun Kings: The Unexpected Tragedy of Richard Carrington and the Tale of How Modern Astronomy Began."

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel

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