NIWA is developing a suite of sophisticated, high-resolution online weather forecasting and information products, collectively called NiwaForecast, which will help New Zealanders plan their weather-dependent business and leisure activities and prepare for extreme events that may put lives and property at risk.
NiwaForecast draws on data from NIWA's national weather and climate monitoring network, and from many international sources including satellites, weather balloons, aircraft, ships and buoys. Using the computational power of our IBM p575 POWER6 supercomputer, we feed these data into sophisticated models that represent atmospheric processes to generate discrete weather forecasts out to 15 days for locations as close as 12km apart. Each forecast is validated against the weather that actually occurs at that location and time, meaning the model forecast output is continually being refined and improved.
For end users like farmers, orchardists, firefighters and port operators, confidence comes with the accuracy and local relevance of the forecasts they receive. Information is tailored as closely as possible to the location of the user, eliminating the need for interpretation of regional or urban forecasts.
The first NiwaForecast package, tailored specifically to farmers and growers, was launched at the Mystery Creek Fieldays in 2013. Following valuable feedback from users and further enhancement of our forecasting capability, NIWA has launched a new-and-improved web-based package for farmers at Fieldays this year (11-14 June 2014).
FarmMet is aimed at helping farmers weigh up risk and make decisions on day-to-day farming practices such as when to move stock, when to irrigate or spray or when to protect against potentially damaging weather like heavy rainfall, snow, frost or high winds.
FarmMet works by capturing data from the climate stations closest to an individual farm and using that to tailor a forecast to farmers delivered straight to their computer. Using this highly tailored system, NIWA can create a different forecasts for properties as little as 12km apart.
This latest, highly accurate, up-to-date and specific forecasting system is backed by NIWA’s internationally recognised weather and climate science expertise and by the modelling and capabilities of one of the most powerful supercomputers of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.
More information is available on the pages linked below.