MTMA39-Forecasting Systems and Applications

Module Provider: Meteorology
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Dr Peter Inness


Type of module:

Summary module description:
An introduction to the end-to-end process of operational weather forecast production.

To introduce the different methods of numerical and statistical weather and climate forecasting used in a range of applications.

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the module the student should be able to:

• Describe the basic formulation of a numerical weather or climate forecasting model in simple terms;

• List the various different applications of numerical forecasting systems, from short range forecasting up to seasonal forecasting;

• Describe the use of statistical methods in providing empirical forecasts, particularly at the seasonal time scale;

• Discuss the importance of a wide variety of observations in setting initial conditions for weather and climate forecasts;

• Discuss the various constraints on the design of a weather or climate forecasting system;

• Discuss and quantify in relative terms the various sources of uncertainty in weather and climate forecasts;

• Discuss some of the ways in which the output from forecast models is processed in order to provide useful information to forecasters and their customers;

• Describe and objectively discuss some of the ways in which ensemble forecasts are used;

• Describe some methods for evaluating the performance of numerical prediction models.

Additional outcomes:

Students will learn to run the ECMWF portable forecasting system, “Open-IFS” and produce plots of the forecast variables using the ECMWF MetView system.

Outline content:

• The basic formulation of numerical models in terms of a set of dynamical equations, parametrized sub-gridscale physical processes and a model domain with appropriate resolution;

• The other elements of an operational forecasting system, including the input and assimilation of observations, generation of model output fields and the post-processing of model output to provide useful information for the production of weather forecasts;

• The different applications for which numerical models are used, together with consideration of how these applications affect the design of the forecasting system. Examples of the systems used by the UK Met Office will be given, together with some comparison with systems used at the European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasts where appropriate;

• An introduction to the various types of observational data used in numerical models, together with some consideration of how these observations introduce uncertainty into weather prediction;

• An introduction to the use and interpretation of ensemble forecasts * Comparison of statistical and dynamical forecasts at seasonal time scales;

• The evaluation of forecast model performance.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

Lectures, including structured discussion of operational model output.

Students will be taught to run the ECMWF Open-IFS forecasting system and analyse the output in two 2-hour computing practical sessions.

Reading lists for meteorology modules are available here


Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 16
Practicals classes and workshops 4
Guided independent study 80
Total hours by term 100.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Report 30
Class test administered by School 70

Summative assessment- Examinations:
2 hour exam with a choice of two from three questions in January.

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Formative assessment methods:
3 non-assessed exercises applying lecture concepts to actual weather situations.

Penalties for late submission:

Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information:

Assessment requirements for a pass:


Reassessment arrangements:
For candidates who have failed, an opportunity to take a resit examination will be provided within the lifetime of the course.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

1) Required text books: 2) Specialist equipment or materials: 3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear: 4) Printing and binding: 5) Computers and devices with a particular specification: 6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

Last updated: 20 April 2018


Things to do now