Launch of Numerical Weather Prediction – A Practical Guide for Mariners

By MarEx 2013-02-20 09:59:00

The Nautical Institute has today (Wednesday) launched Numerical Weather Prediction – a practical guide for mariners aimed at explaining the benefits and limitations of numerical weather prediction (NWP) so that mariners can get the most out of it and confidently rely on it for safe operations.

NWP has significantly improved the accuracy of weather forecasts and enabled the development of services specifically for mariners, including routeing advice and forecasts as ECDIS overlays. However, statistics from the International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI) indicate that the leading cause of total loss of shipping between 1996 and 2010 was weather. Between 2006 and 2010, weather accounted for 45% of total losses.
Author Huw Davies MSc MA MBA FInstLM explained that “insurers, mariners and shipping companies have not responded to the improvements in weather forecast accuracy or adjusted their procedures and expectations.” In order to close that gap, mariners need to be able to recognise when they are being presented with NWP, establish its source and the characteristics and performance of the particular NWP model and make informed judgements on suitability and use. This practical guide “cuts through the jargon and complexity to provide mariners with the confidence and knowledge to exploit all of the advantages of modern meteorology and to avoid the pitfalls,” he said.

Effective use of weather forecasting offers the possibility of improving both safety and commercial efficiency. The publication of this guide is in line with The Nautical Institute’s Strategic Plan for 2011-2015, which identified the needs of the seafarer as key to the development of eNavigation. David Patraiko, Director of Projects at the Institute, pointed out that the IMO has initiated this concept to ensure the harmonised exchange of information between ship and shore to support decision-making. “Information should be reliable and in a format that supports decision-making. This guide should help mariners to make the best use of the technology in a practical and professional way,” he said.

Huw is a World Meteorological Organization accredited weather forecaster and a former Commander in the Royal Navy with extensive experience in marine and aviation meteorology and oceanography both at sea and ashore. He currently advises the UK government, European Commission and a number of FTSE 100 companies on the marine environment and sits on the European Commission Maritime Borders Working Group.

The book explains the NWP production process and examines the accuracy and characteristics of the main meteorological and wave models. Subsequent chapters demonstrate how mariners can evaluate the added value of the many digital weather products and services on offer and also create their own forecasts using freely available NWP sources and free viewers.

In his Foreword, Admiral (Retd) Sir Ian Forbes KCB CBE RN commented that the “capable and fast-moving technology” surrounding NWP  “and the mass of information it provides, is only as good  as the user’s ability to interpret and deploy it to best effect. And to know how such predictive data was arrived at and by whom.” He acknowledged that when presented with the vast array of new applications and possibilities it offers, “it is all too easy to settle for a less than optimum set of actions and outcomes that fall short of what technology can deliver.”

In commending the book, the latest of The Nautical Institute’s practical guides, he stressed that it is written by a mariner for the use of mariners and will inform, educate and ensure the best use of equipment.

In a presentation at the launch, Andrew Paul, Manager Projects and Research, Corporate Maritime Policy at Carnival Corporation, stressed the importance to the shipowner of the continued evolutionary development of NWP. “Accurate meteorological forecasting enables mariners to use their judgement to decide on the most appropriate route to optimise safety and efficiency. Improvements to NWP mean improved support for the Master.”

The products and services herein described in this press release are not endorsed by The Maritime Executive.