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Indranil Sarkar

Indranil is a weather industry expert with a decade long experience in the domain. He has been instrumental in setting up novel weather services across landscapes for both agriculture and industry, raising capital and crafting a growth story for weather forecasting in India. Currently he is Senior Vice President of Express Weather.

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TV & Electronics Giant Panasonic Claims The World's Best Weather Model

Panasonic has made a study internally using a 500 hPa anomaly correlation between their model, the GFS and the ECMWF

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Weather technology has received a major thrust from a very unlikely corner. The Osaka based Japanese multinational electronics corporation Panasonic recently announced that it has created the world's best weather model. Popularly known for its televisions and electronics, the Japanese giant started its weather endeavours in 2003.

Panasonic's claims that their forecast is better than the American Global Forecast System (GFS) and the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) is yet to be established in a scenario where comparative forecasts are available for independent analysis. Panasonic has made a study internally using a 500 hPa anomaly correlation between their model, the GFS and the ECMWF.

Weather forecasting has witnessed frantic activity by private players globally in the past couple of decades but the 'hard work' of collecting atmospheric data points (also called soundings) and running simulations on expensive supercomputers had been with the government agencies like National Centre for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) in the United States, ECMWF Centre in Europe, the India Meteorological Department and similar government agencies across the world.

The scores of private weather companies including the biggies like The Weather Company (which is an IBM business now) and AccuWeather use data from the government for their proprietary algorithms that is further used to service the end user. But Panasonic's effort is ground breaking in nature as it is collecting 3500 soundings (atmospheric data points, remember?) across the globe daily and increasing.

Panasonic acquired AirDat in 2013, a company that designed and created TAMDAR systems and deployed them on planes to collect weather data. In essence, the TAMDAR systems replicated the vertical profiling of the atmosphere for Panasonic which was being largely achieved by soundings using weather balloons.

The data collected from planes gave Panasonic an immense edge over other private weather players who depend on one or the other government agency for primary weather data. While Panasonic uses its very own proprietary approach to analysing weather data, it has responded to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) call of emergency in the past and provided their raw data completely free of cost. Interestingly, Panasonic is also selling some of its atmospheric data to NOAA.

Exclusive access to a third global model (GFS and ECMWF are widely used) coming into play that is superior might prove to be game changer for businesses who are effected by weather. These have traditionally depended on data from the former two, either directly or passing through proprietary analytics of a weather company. But much of it would depend on how accurate the weather forecasts from Panasonic's model turn out be in the real world scenarios. More of the company's forecasts shared with the public and that too well in advance will be a deciding factor in corroborating Panasonics' claims.

Panasonic plans to monetize its global model based forecasts by selling to companies betting on energy futures for now.

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panasonic environment weather opinion