Coronavirus could mean weather forecasts are less accurate

Weather forecasts could become less accurate as the number of flights across the world continues to decrease due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Since the beginning of flight, aeroplanes have provided important information about the current state of the atmosphere.

The more accurately the current weather is known, the more accurate the forecast will be.

Data reports from aircraft are combined with other information obtained from manned and automated weather stations, weather buoys, radar, radiosondes, wind profiles and satellites.

This gives a whole host of information about air pressure, temperature, wind, humidity, rainfall amounts and sunshine through the depth of the atmosphere.

The European Centre for Medium-Ranged Weather Forecasting (ECMWF) notes there has been a 65% reduction in the number of data reports, from about 50,400 per day on 3 March to under 18,000 on 23 March.

With EasyJet today announcing it will ground its entire fleet of planes for at least two months, this reduction is likely to continue over the coming months – potentially into the summer – and this could well have an impact on weather forecasts.

With less data reports being made, the accuracy of our weather forecasting could be affected.

In 2019, the ECMWF investigated the impact on forecasts if aircraft reports were not used, and they found a large impact at the typical cruising altitude of flights.

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