The steep drop in aviation observations from various networks (WMO/Canadian Meteorological Center)
The steep drop in aviation observations from various networks (WMO/Canadian Meteorological Center)

From the Department of Unanticipated Outcomes, we learn that one of the knock-on effects of the global cratering of the airline industry is a dramatic loss of enormous amounts of weather data that is collected by commercial aircraft.

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At the global level, networks that vacuum up data from planes flying in Europe, Asia and South America have helped to ensure an ever-growing flow of data that’s benefited modeling centers worldwide, boosting model skill and forecast accuracy.

However, with the paucity of flights in the air now, the pandemic has disrupted that data flow, turning it from a fire hose to more of a trickle. Meteorologists don’t know exactly how much of an impact that’s having on forecast skill.

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