Weather forecasting is a complex and challenging undertaking, especially when it comes to predicting long-range weather patterns. However, recent research conducted by scientists at LMU has shed light on a promising new approach to improving the accuracy of such forecasts.

The stratosphere, a layer of the atmosphere located 15 to 50 kilometers above the Earth’s surface, plays a crucial role in influencing weather patterns, particularly in Northern Europe. Researchers at LMU have found that events occurring in the stratosphere, such as the weakening or breakdown of the polar vortex, can have a significant impact on long-range weather forecasts.

When the polar vortex weakens or breaks down, the North Atlantic jetstream tends to shift southward, leading to an increased likelihood of cold spells over Eurasia. These rare events, which occur approximately every other winter, can have far-reaching effects on the weather in Northern Europe.

A recent study published in Communications Earth & Environment by LMU meteorologists has highlighted another important aspect of stratospheric influence on long-range weather forecasting. Weak polar vortex states, like the one currently prevailing, have been found to reduce the uncertainty of 3-5 week forecasts over Northern Europe by as much as 25%.

The reduced uncertainty in weather forecasts over Northern Europe following weak polar vortex events can be attributed to the southward shift of the North Atlantic jetstream. This shift in the tracks of winter storms leads to less storm activity, thereby making the weather more predictable in this region. On the other hand, forecast uncertainty tends to increase over Southern Europe.

The research conducted by LMU scientists has revealed the significant impact that stratospheric events can have on long-range weather forecasting. By better understanding these phenomena, forecasters may be able to improve the accuracy of their predictions and provide valuable information for various sectors such as agriculture, energy production, and public health. This groundbreaking research opens up new possibilities for enhancing our ability to anticipate and prepare for future weather conditions.

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