Babbage: How good can weather forecasting get?

In recent weeks, extreme heat, floods and storms have smashed records and caused devastation around the world. Freak weather events such as these will become more frequent due to climate change—but they are exceptionally hard to predict. How are meteorologists gearing up to face the enormous challenge of predicting the weather in a warming world? 

Andrew Charlton-Perez, at the University of Reading in Britain, explains how weather forecasts are made—and why meteorology is such a complicated science. The Economist’s Rachel Dobbs investigates the next frontiers in forecasting. She asks Sam Levang, the chief scientist at Salient Predictions, how artificial intelligence can play a role in improving predictions of the weather. Rachel also visits the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts’s data centre in Bologna, Italy, to understand how a combination of technological approaches will be required to make weather forecasting fit for the 21st century. Alok Jha, The Economist’s science and technology editor, hosts.

For full access to The Economist’s print, digital and audio editions subscribe at and sign up for our weekly science newsletter at

Hosted on Acast. See for more information.