The company said the new weather forecasts offer more details and bring a level of precision once available only in major industrial countries.
The forecasting tool is expected to help emergency officials better predict where severe storms will hit. It may also aid airline companies planning flight paths, as well as farmers caring for crops.
The new system creates weather forecasts more often and with finer details than what is available outside the United States, Europe and Japan.
Most forecasts have a resolution of 10 to 15 square kilometers and provide new information every six to 12 hours. IBM’s Global High-Resolution Atmospheric Forecasting System goes down to 3 square kilometers and provides information every hour.
“That’s providing a level of detail that we’ve not been able to see in parts of the world such as Southeast Asia, Africa as well as South America,” notes Kevin Petty. He serves as director of science and forecasting at The Weather Company, which IBM owns.
That kind of precision can provide details of where and when extremely heavy rain will fall. That could be useful in emergency situations, and could help farmers decide when to plant, harvest and fertilize crops.
Better forecasts around worldwide
Fred Carr is emeritus meteorology professor at the University of Oklahoma, and was not involved with the project.
Carr says the United States has a similar high-resolution forecasting system, “but it’s just for the U.S. because it takes so much computer time. To do it for the whole globe is a pretty significant achievement.”
Carr added that it is possible to quickly collect observations from radar, airplanes and surface measurements in the United States. But he said it is not clear how IBM gets information from the other 98% of the world.
Carr said he believes there will be problems in getting information, so “sometimes those forecasts aren’t going to be very accurate.”
Users will be able to decide for themselves. The system now operates on the Weather.com website and The Weather Channel’s application program for smartphones.
In the future, IBM hopes to improve its forecasts by collecting information from atmospheric pressure sensors used in such phones.
These sensors improve the precision of global positioning system, or GPS, technology. For example, they can help fitness tracking instruments measure how many steps a user has climbed.
IBM said it is not currently using this information but plans to offer users the chance to choose it.
Some privacy activists and governments have criticized technology companies for collecting this kind of information. The city of Los Angeles, California has brought a case against IBM for improperly using location information from Weather Channel app users.
I’m Jonathan Evans.
Steve Baragona reported this story for VOA News. Jonathan Evans adapted it for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
Words in This Story
achievement – n. something that has been done or achieved through effort; a result of hard work
accurate – adj. free from mistakes or errors
forecast – n. a prediction of something in the future
meteorology – n. a science that deals with the atmosphere and with weather
precision – adj. designed for very accurate measurement or operation
resolution – n. a measure of the sharpness of an image or of the fineness with which a device such as a video display, printer, or scanner can produce or record such an image usually expressed as the total number or density of pixels in the image
English in a Minute: Significant Other
6 Minute English
Not going out
EPISODE 180726 / 26 JUL 2018
This week's question:
In the survey, what percentage of people gave the poor social media photo opportunity as their reason for not wanting to venture out into the countryside? Was it:
a) around 10%
b) around 30%
c) around 50%
Listen to the programme to find out the answer.
to venture out somewhere
to go out somewhere, but usually when the conditions are bad
those who became adults in the early 21st century
those who became adults in the 1980s and 1990s
amazing, surprising and unbelievable
activities that prevent us from doing more important things
new informal word made with the sufix 'able' and it means 'suitable for posting on the social media platform Instagram'
Note: This is not a word for word transcript
Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English. I'm Neil.
Hi! And I'm Catherine.
Now, Catherine, when was the last time you went for a walk in the country for fun, for exercise or relaxation?
People do that?
Well, believe it or not, they do.
Interesting, people are strange.
Well, it sounds like you should pay close attention to today's programme because it's all about how fewer and fewer people are venturing out into the country.
Well, I wonder if that word is part of the problem. To venture out somewhere suggests that it's a big challenge, or even a risky activity.
I don't think a walk in the country is a particularly dangerous activity, even in bad weather. It's not one of the reasons people gave in a recent survey for why they don't do it. In fact, one of the biggest reasons people gave was that it wouldn't look good on their social media.
Well, of course, why would you go for a walk in the rain in the country if you couldn't get good snaps for your social media account?
Interesting you should say that because it's the topic of this week's quiz question. In the survey, what percentage of people gave the poor social media photo opportunity as their reason for not wanting to venture out into the countryside? Was it:
a) around 10%,
b) around 30% or
c) around 50%?
What do you think?
To be honest, I don't think that would be a good excuse at all, so I'm going to say it's just 10%.
Listen out for the answer at the end of the programme. Annabel Shackleton is from an organisation called Leaf – Linking Environment and Farming. They want to encourage more people to visit the countryside. She recently appeared on the BBC's Farming Today radio programme. She gave her response to the survey we mentioned which revealed that many of us prefer to stay indoors. What does she say a quarter of people in the survey know and believe?
I can’t believe that 4 in 10 millennials think they should spend more time in the countryside and a quarter of them know and believe that it's much better and easier to relax in the countryside but they’re just not going out. It's phenomenal.
She was talking about a group in the survey which she called millennials. This term refers to people who are young adults now, people who were born in the 1980s and 1990s. Are you a millennial, Neil?
No, I'm actually Generation X, the age group before millennials. We were born in the 1960s, 70s and early 80s. Shackleton said that a quarter of millennials know and believe that it's better and easier to relax in the country, but they just don’t go.
She thought it was phenomenal. Now this adjective means that something is incredible, unbelievable. It's often used for something that is positive, something that is very impressive or amazing.
In this case though she is using it to say how shocked and surprised she is that people know going out in the country is good and a great way to relax but they still don't do it. So what explanation does she have for this phenomenal behaviour. Here's Annabel Shackleton again.
There are just so many other distractions and it's just so easy for people to stay indoors. You know and they're using excuses like they haven't got the right clothing, it's not instagramable, would you believe it? And yes, it's a shame.
She said that there are many other distractions. A distraction is something that takes your attention away from doing something. Usually we think of a distraction as something that delays us from doing something more important.
These days we have a lot of distractions or things that offer us easy entertainment. So it's very easy to come up with an excuse for not taking the time to go outside.
Another very good excuse of course is the weather. It's not a lot of fun to go out if it's cold and pouring with rain.
Well, a very wise person once said that there is no such thing as the wrong weather, just the wrong clothing!
True, Neil, but you have to have the right clothing in the first place and if the weather is terrible you might not be able to get good pictures for your Instagram account. They might not be instagramable. Now you're not going to find that word in the dictionary, but you probably know that the suffix able means 'possible'. So put able on the end of Instagram and you get instagramable.
And that brings us neatly back to our question. What percentage of people in the survey said that they wouldn't go out in the country because they wouldn't get good pictures for social media? Was it around 10%, 30% or 50%. What did you say, Catherine?
I said 10.
And the answer was about 30%!
What is the world coming to?
I don’t know what the world is coming to, but we are coming to the end of the programme, so time to review today's vocabulary.
We started off with to venture out somewhere, which simply means to go out somewhere, but usually when the conditions are bad, for example – it was pouring with rain but I still decided to venture out to the shops.
We heard about millennials and Generation X. Different age groups, millennials are those who became adults in the early 21st century, and Generation X are from the previous generation, who became adults in the 1980s and 1990s.
Something phenomenal is amazing, surprising and unbelievable.
And then we had distractions for activities that prevent us from doing more important things.
And one of the biggest distractions is social media. Put the suffix able onto the end of the name of a social media platform and you create a word that describes something that is suitable for posting, so instagramable.
bbc learningenglish is certainly instagramable, facebookable, tweetable and youtubeable. You can find us on all those platforms as well as on our website. So do check us out there before joining us again for more 6 Minute English. Goodbye.