Andrew Blum (2019)

Weather forecasting is one of the triumphs of modern technology – and especially computing technology. This book stretches across the technology stack, from the sensors that are collecting the raw data (and how they evolved from earlier systems) all the way to the modelling and processing of that data into usable forecasts, with some very interesting diversions into the sociology and politics of global weather forecasting, and how the rise of privately-owned data streams may improve the lives of many but disadvantage some of the areas of the world most in need of better forecasting as the climate warms.

But Blum manages to do all this without ever really getting to grips with the technology or the science, and that’s rather disappointing. It’s made worse by side-references to some ideas that could have formed the basis for discussion, for example Edward Witten’s discovery of the chaotic dynamics of weather which is what drives a lot of model design. To me that suggests reading this book alongside Chaos: Making a New Science, where the science is more central and the technology therefore more understandable.

3/5. Finished Saturday 12 October, 2019.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)