Why Weather Forecasts Fail Big and Fail Often
A day after forecasters unanimously predicted a snowstorm of epic proportions for New York City, and the mayor ordered eight million people to stay off the roads, the predictions failed to materialize. The city received inches of snow rather than the feet predicted. A good thing, to be sure, but how did such dire predictions miss the mark?
Researchers at Tel Aviv University have quantified for the first time why weather forecasting is so fraught with error in all parts of the globe. Different regions have different challenges, according to Prof. Alpert of the Department of Geosciences, but predicting what will happen in the atmosphere remains a difficult undertaking despite advances in meteorological modeling technology.
A day after forecasters unanimously predicted a snowstorm of epic proportions for New York City, and the mayor ordered eight million people to stay off the roads, including takeout delivery providers, the predictions failed to materialize. The city received inches of snow rather than the feet predicted. A good thing, to be sure, but how did such dire predictions miss the mark?
"The researchers found the dominant factors clouding the accuracy of predictions comprised land-use changes (i.e. an area that had been covered in forest is suddenly bare), topography, particles in the atmosphere and population density."
The most common challenge facing meteorologists—and the most difficult to incorporate into their modeling technology—are new land cover changes which affect how water collects or runs off, in turn affecting cloud formation and precipitation patterns.
On the Atlantic coast, a great number of factors complicate weather predictions, including fluctuating ocean temperatures, winds that change as they reach the coastline, and storms which either gain or lose energy depending on their trajectory.
During his Big Think interview, German psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer helped explain how statistical risk, most often expressed as an x-percent change of inclement weather, is rarely communicated effectively even by meteorologists:
Read more at Science Daily
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A groundbreaking new study shows that octopuses seemed to exhibit uncharacteristically social behavior when given MDMA, the psychedelic drug commonly known as ecstasy.
- Octopuses, like humans, have genes that seem to code for serotonin transporters.
- Scientists gave MDMA to octopuses to see whether those genes translated into a binding site for serotonin, which regulates emotions and behavior in humans
- Octopuses, which are typically asocial creatures, seem to get friendlier while on MDMA, suggesting humans have more in common with the strange invertebrates than previously thought
There's a growing understanding that drawing is much more than an art form: it's a powerful tool for learning.
- We often think of drawing as something that takes innate talent, but this kind of thinking stems from our misclassification of drawing as, primarily, an art form rather than a tool for learning.
- Researchers, teachers, and artists are starting to see how drawing can positively impact a wide variety of skills and disciplines.
- Drawing is not an innate gift; rather, it can be taught and developed. Doing so helps people to perceive the world more accurately, remember facts better, and understand their world from a new perspective.
It may be simpler than we thought.
- An analysis of a massive amount of data reveals four new personality types.
- The study is the first to take self-reporting out of the equation.
- The four new types are "average," "reserved," "self-centered," and "role model".
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