The Emergence of Numerical Weather Prediction: Richardson's Dream

Hardcover (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $87.77
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 17%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (6) from $87.77   
  • New (4) from $87.77   
  • Used (2) from $97.94   


In the early twentieth century, Lewis Fry Richardson dreamt that scientific weather prediction would one day become a practical reality. The method of computing changes in the state of the atmosphere, which he mapped out in great detail, is essentially the method used today. Before his ideas could bear fruit, several advances were needed: better understanding of the dynamics of the atmosphere; stable computational algorithms to integrate the equations of motion; regular observations of the free atmosphere; and powerful automatic computer equipment.

By 1950, advances on all these fronts were sufficient to permit the first computer weather forecast to be made. Over the ensuing 50 years, progress in numerical weather prediction has been dramatic, allowing Richardson's dream to become a reality. Weather prediction and climate modelling have now reached a high level of sophistication.

This book tells the story of Richardson's trial forecast, and the fulfilment of his dream of practical weather forecasting and climate modelling. It has a complete reconstruction of Richardson's forecast, and analyses in detail the causes of the failure of this forecast. It also includes a description of current practice, with particular emphasis on the work of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts. The book will appeal to researchers in atmospheric science, numerical weather prediciton, climate modelling and computer simulation, and to students in these fields, as well as readers interested in the history of meteorology and of computation.

About the Author:
Peter Lynch is Met Eireann Professor of Meteorology at University College Dublin (UCD), and Director of the UCD Meteorology and Climate Centre

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The Emergence of Numerical Weather Prediction is the best single source available for understanding Richardson's forecast--better even than Richardson's own book.... Lynch's book is more than just a historical case study--he has provided an insider's guide to how weather prediction works.
Brian Hayes, American Scientist

"...Lynch serves as an experienced guide--a trusted leader and companion who possesses the macroscopic view of Richardson's work and adds detail from his pervasive knowledge of the subject. Beyond the knowledge, he has the gift of writing where hard mathematical fact is eloquently mixed with history and that occasional but welcome tincture of humor. ... [this author gives] us the solid theory that is masterfully blended with history. The subjects come to life and inspire us. [This book] has a special place on my bookshelf. It is a treasure, and I will refer to it often." - John M. Lewis, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521857291
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/2006
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 290
  • Product dimensions: 6.85 (w) x 9.72 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Lynch is Met √Čireann Professor of Meteorology at the University College Dublin and Director of the UCD Meteorology and Climate Centre. Prior to this he was Deputy Director of Met √Čireann, the Irish Meteorological Service. He is a Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society, the Royal Astronomical Society, the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications, and the Institute of Physics.
Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Guiding signs     viii
Preface     ix
Acknowledgements     xi
Weather Prediction by Numerical Process     1
The problem     1
Vilhelm Bjerknes and scientific forecasting     4
Outline of Richardson's life and work     10
The origin of Weather Prediction by Numerical Process     14
Outline of the contents of WPNP     18
Preview of remaining chapters     25
The fundamental equations     29
Richardson's general circulation model     30
The basic equations     31
The vertical velocity equation     39
Temperature in the stratosphere     42
Pressure co-ordinates     44
The oscillations of the atmosphere     47
The Laplace tidal equations     48
Normal modes of the atmosphere     49
Atmospheric tides     55
Numerical solution of the Laplace tidal equations     56
The barotropic forecast     63
Richardson's model and data     63
The finite difference scheme     65
Richardson's conclusions     68
The global numerical model     70
Extending the forecast     72
Non-divergent and balanced initial conditions     75
Reflections on the single layer model     77
The solution algorithm     79
The finite difference method     79
Integration in time     81
The Courant-Friedrichs-Lewy stability criterion     85
The Richardson grid     87
The equations for the strata     89
The computational algorithm     92
Observations and initial fields     97
Aerological observations     97
Dines' meteorograph     100
The Leipzig charts     104
Preparation of the initial fields     109
Richardson's forecast     117
What Richardson actually predicted: 20 numbers     117
Scaling the equations of motion     120
Analysis of the initial tendencies     125
The causes of the forecast failure     131
Max Margules and the 'impossibility' of forecasting     133
Balance and initialisation     137
Balance in the atmosphere     137
The slow manifold     140
Techniques of initialisation     142
The swinging spring     146
Digital filter initialisation     152
Smoothing the forecast     159
Reconstruction of the forecast     159
Richardson's five smoothing methods     162
Digital filtering of the initial data     164
Extension of the forecast     175
The ENIAC integrations     181
The 'Meteorology Project'     182
The filtered equations     187
The first computer forecast     190
The barotropic model     196
Multi-level models     199
Primitive equation models     202
General circulation models and climate modelling     206
Numerical weather prediction today     209
Observational data     209
Objective analysis     213
Progress in computing     219
The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts     221
Meso-scale modelling     228
Chaos, predictability and ensemble forecasting     231
Fulfilment of the dream     243
Richardson's explanation of his glaring error     243
The 'forecast factory'     246
Richardson's dream     248
Table of notation     251
Milestones in Richardson's life and career     254
Laplace tidal equations: separation of variables     256
Richardson's forecast factory: the {dollar}64 000 question     259
References     262
Index     274
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)