Google ‘nowcast’ AI can accurately predict the weather in minutes

Brittany A. Roston - Jan 15, 2020, 2:07 pm CST
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Google ‘nowcast’ AI can accurately predict the weather in minutes

Researchers with Google have published a research paper detailing the machine learning technology behind their newly developed ‘nowcast’ capabilities. The tech works to predict the weather for the immediate future — as soon as a single hour in the future, according to the study — so that people know what to expect and how to arrange their plans. Google claims this technology can make accurate predictions in only minutes.

A nowcast, as you may have guessed, is a term being used to refer to a forecast for the current moment or the very near future. Predicting the weather for these future moments is tricky, but can greatly help both individuals and societies, making it possible to plan one’s outdoor run, arrange outdoor construction projects around the weather, and more.

In a recent post on its AI blog, Google detailed its newly published research paper on using machine learning for precipitation nowcasting. The study focuses on what the team refers to as highly localized and physics-free predictions for a time period spanning from zero to six hours into the future.

The team’s machine learning model can predict the weather with high accuracy for a region in just five to 10 minutes, doing so with a high resolution. Despite being in its early stages, the team found that its machine learning models were able to outperform traditionally used weather prediction models.

The technology is, at least at this point in time, best for predicting short-term nowcasts rather than for making more long-range weather predictions. In addition to making life easier for people, the technology could also help pave the way for vital weather predictions related to extreme and unusual events caused by climate change.


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