Weather game seeks to improve forecasts

Friday 26th Aug 2011 by theWeather Club

Crown Copyright Met Office

The Met Office has teamed up with Bristol and Cambridge Universities to launch an online weather game. While this may seem a trivial endeavour, there is a serious aim behind the project. The game aims to help the Met Office to investigate how we respond to different representations of probabilities, particularly for use in presenting weather forecasts. The weather game project, led by Liz Stephens from the School of Geographical Sciences at University of Bristol, will run for one month and aims to be the largest and most comprehensive study into the understanding of how weather probabilities are communicated.

Ms Stephens said "It's not easy to communicate probabilities and previous studies have only been carried out on a relatively small scale. By presenting this in the format of an online game, we hope to learn how using probabilities can improve the presentation of weather forecasts."

Players of the game will help ice cream man Brad run his business by deciding on where and when he should sell his ice cream depending on the weather over a four week period. The weather game uses a number of different ways of presenting probabilistic forecasts which the players will use to make decisions on where Brad should sell. Their decisions will give the researchers important feedback and information about how the public respond to different probability models and therefore point to the most effective ways of presenting weather forecasts.

Ken Mylne, Met Office Ensemble Forecasting Manager, said "We are constantly looking at ways to improve the way we communicate our forecasts to the public. By playing this game participants will help us to understand the best way of communicating probability in weather forecasts."

The weather game takes approximately 5 minutes to complete and is available at www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/weather-game

So the game is afoot to see how well Brad's ice cream sells, the results of which may feed back into the decisions of real ice cream sellers across the country who use the forecasts to decide where to sell their wares.