Published: 20 October 2015

Academic invited to write prestigious Impact150 article

To mark the 150th anniversary of the London Mathematical Society, Professor Ian Roulstone has written an article highlighting the impact of maths on weather prediction.

‘The Impact of Mathematics on Meteorology and Weather Prediction’, was published on the website of the London Mathematical Society (LMS) – the UK’s premier learned society for mathematics – in October. It is the first of a series of ‘Impact150’ articles written by prominent academics, each examining how a specific field of mathematics has changed the UK, published as part of the Society’s 150th anniversary activities.

In his article, Professor Roulstone explains how mathematics helps us to distinguish between the predictable and the unpredictable in weather and climate forecasting. In the run-up to Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, using a range of diagnostic tools enabled meteorologists to accurately predict that a severe weather event could be heading for New York before the tropical storm had even formed.

“The fusion of novel mathematics with computer science and observational meteorology has resulted in the current 3-day forecast being as reliable as the 1-day forecast 20 years ago,” he writes. This improvement is down not only to the advanced performance of supercomputers, but the mathematical modelling which helps us to separate the predictable from the unpredictable.

An expert in mathematical modelling and its use in weather forecasting, Professor Roulstone spent 15 years with the government’s Met Office before joining the University of Surrey. He is co-author of the book ‘Invisible in the Storm: The Role of Mathematics in Understanding Weather’, which won the 2015 Louis J Battan Author’s Award from the American Meteorological Society.

Read ‘The Impact of Mathematics on Meteorology and Weather Prediction’ on the LMS website. This article will be followed by a number of other articles on the impact of mathematics on society, focusing on topics such as cryptography, virus modelling and computer vision.


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