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This is Scientific American's 60-second Science, I'm Julia Rosen.
Here are two things that you probably didn't think were connected: the COVID-19 pandemic and weather forecasts.
But there is a link: commercial air travel.
As jetliners carry passengers around the world, they also collect vital weather measurements, like air temperature and wind speed.
During the pandemic, however, air travel has come almost to a halt.
"In February, let's say, we have 100 percent. And then in March we go down by half. And April go down by another half.
So currently, possibly, we just have one quarter of aircraft running. So you can imagine the gap of observations."
Ying Chen, a meteorologist at the University of Lancaster in England.
To create weather forecasts, meteorologists need to feed accurate information about current weather conditions into their models.
And planes are one of the best ways to get such info, since they sample the atmosphere at different altitudes and locations.
But with the coronavirus grounding flights around the world, meteorologists are feeling the loss.
"I analyzed three months of spring, which is March, April and May. And I see temperature, wind speed―forecast accuracy all goes down."
Forecast quality declined the most for long-range projections and over remote areas where planes are one of the few sources of data.
In Greenland, for example, the accuracy of temperature forecasts has decreased by as much as 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit.
这里是科学美国人――60秒科学系列,我是朱莉娅・罗森。
有两件事你可能认为没有关联:新冠肺炎疫情和天气预报。
但二者存在一个关联:商业航空旅行。
当喷气客机在世界各地运送乘客时,它们也收集气温和风速等重要的天气数值。
然而,在疫情期间,航空旅行几乎停滞。
“2月份,比如我们有100%。之后在3月份减少了一半。4月又降了一半。
因此,现在,我们可能只有四分之一的飞机在运行。你可以想象观察值的差距。”
英国兰卡斯特大学的气象学家Ying Chen说到。
为了制作天气预报,气象学家需要将当前天气状况的准确信息输入到他们的模型中。
飞机是获取这些信息的最佳途径之一,因为它们在不同海拔和位置采集大气样本。
但随着冠状病毒导致全球飞机停飞,气象学家感受到了损失。
“我分析了春季的三个月,即三月、四月和五月。我看到温度和风速的预报准确率都下降了。”
预报质量下降最严重的是远程预测和偏远地区预测,而飞机是偏远地区为数不多的数据来源之一。
例如,在格陵兰岛,温度预报的准确率下降了3.5华氏度之多。
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