The birth of numerical weather prediction

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The paper describes the major events leading gradually to operational, numerical, short-range predictions for the large-scale atmospheric flow. The theoretical foundation starting with Rossby's studies of the linearized, barotropic equation and ending a decade and a half later with the general formulation of the quasi-geostrophic, baroclinic model by Charney and Phillips is described. The problems connected with the very long waves and the inconsistences of the geostrophic approximation which were major obstacles in the first experimental forecasts are discussed. The resulting changes to divergent barotropic and baroclinic models and to the use of the balance equation are described. After the discussion of the theoretical foundation, the paper describes the major developments leading to the Meteorology Project at the Institute for Advanced Studied under the leadership of John von Neumann and Jule Charney followed by the establishment of the Joint Numerical Weather Prediction Unit in Suitland, Maryland. The inter-connected developments in Europe, taking place more-or-less at the same time, are described by concentrating on the activities in Stockholm where the barotropic model was used in many experiments leading also to operational forecasts. The further developments resulting in the use of the primitive equations and the formulation of medium-range forecasting models are not included in the paper.DOI: 10.1034/j.1600-0889.1991.t01-3-00006.x
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