In the North-Atlantic, an accurate weather forecast is one of the critical inputs to decision support during the planning and execution of Search & Rescue missions. ICE-SAR, the Icelandic association of rescue teams, has used the operational weather services developed at the Institute for Meteorological Research (IMR) extensively since 2004, when IMR started to provide high resolution weather forecasts on its website, www.belgingur.is. It was therefore natural that ICE-SAR turned to IMR for developing an on-demand weather forecasting system meeting the specific needs of search and rescue personnel.
With a grant from NORA, the Nordic Atlantic cooperation association, the development is now well under way. The system will provide the SAR command centre with targeted forecasts for the search region in very high resolution within minutes of placing an order. In addition, actual weather information for the area can be browsed for up to 30 days prior to the incident. This way the rescue teams will be assured the most accurate weather forecast during operations, as well as information on weather conditions that the persons missing or in danger have experienced up to the time when the rescue mission is initiated.
In a broader context, the need for ever more accurate and detailed weather forecasting and climatological analysis is evident in the light of anthropogenic global warming affecting the Earth’s climate. IMR works towards fulfilling this need by providing state of the art numerical weather prediction in a scalable, cost-efficient manner, as well as providing dynamical downscaling of global climate scenarios to regional scales. In combination, a wide range of challenges posed by weather and climate risks can be addressed in an optimal way.
During its more than 10 years of operation, IMR has established expertise in numerical weather prediction, automatic observations, and studies and forecasting of regional climate. Since 2004, IMR has run operational weather forecasts for Iceland and the N-Atlantic, available on belgingur.is; and recently added ensemble forecasts to its repertoire of operational services. These forecasts are specially designed for the Icelandic power company Landsvirkjun, and will help the company to optimise the utilisation of its water reservoirs. IMR collaborates closely with the Icelandic Meteorological Office and universities in Iceland in the field of numerical modelling and meteorological observations. In recent years IMR has hosted a number of students from Icelandic universities and exchange students from other European countries. IMR provides research facilities for the Department of Physics at the University of Iceland both in the form of access to computing facilities and to instruments for atmospheric research. IMR participates in various Nordic, European and international research and development projects within meteorology and its applications.