Weather is a key factor determining the success of the Winter Games. The next Winter Olympic Games will take place from 4 to 20 February 2022, in the municipality of Beijing and the neighbouring Hebei province, in China. The Paralympic Games will follow a month later, from 4 to 13 March. The scheduling of the outdoor events for the Games will rely on very short-term forecasting and nowcasting.
Accurate and reliable forecasts and warnings of temperature, humidity, visibility and wind extremes affect event scheduling, athletic performance and course conditions. They are also important for ensuring the safety of athletes, support staff, spectators and transit operations. In addition, the snow-making and snow-storage processes need accurate high-resolution short-term forecasting and nowcasting of low-level and surface temperature, humidity and wind.
The Beijing urban area will be the site of the opening and closing ceremonies, all ice competitions and the big air snowboarding events. All alpine skiing and sliding events will be held at the Haituoshan mountain area in the Yanqing district of Beijing city (~60 km north-west of central Beijing). The Nordic skiing and ski-jumping events will take place in Chongli county of Zhangjiakou city, in Hebei province (~100 km north-west of central Beijing city).
Research and development project
Forecasting for the 2022 Winter Games is a special challenge because of the continental winter monsoon conditions and the scarcity of research, operational techniques and experience in very high-resolution winter meteorological forecasting in these two complex mountain areas.
A five-part research and development project, funded by the National Key Research and Development Programme of China, has been initiated to address the forecast challenges and the specialized needs of the various outdoor events. This involves numerous organizations within the China Meteorological Administration (CMA). The project includes five programmes:
enhanced meteorological observations
very short-term forecasting and nowcasting
short- and medium-range prediction
seamless forecasting and early risk warning for key points and events
intelligent meteorological support services
|Figure 1. Locations of the three sporting zones and the solid red line indicates the|
Beijing–Tianjin–Hebei (BTH) boundary (figure created with Google Earth Pro)
The enhanced meteorological observation programme will continue and augment a series of high-resolution observation experiments already underway in Chongli and Haituoshan mountain areas. The in situ and remote-sensing observing systems being utilized are listed in Table 1 and include automated weather stations (AWSs), HOBO？ weather stations, X-band dual-polarization Doppler radars, cloud radars, microwave radiometers, microwave wind profilers, Doppler wind lidars, sodars, radiosoundings, satellites, twin-engine research aircraft, etc. Two new S-band Doppler weather radars are also being deployed in Haituoshan mountain area and Kangbao county of Zhangjiakou city.
The observation programme will also develop high-resolution reanalyses and conceptual models for small-scale weather attributes in the two mountain areas based on multi-sensor observations, high-resolution data assimilation/integration and special numerical simulations (for example, large-eddy simulations and computational fluid dynamics modelling under different winter synoptic conditions). These efforts are being led collaboratively by the Weather Forecast Office of Hebei Meteorological Service (HBMS) of CMA and the Institute of Urban Meteorology (IUM) of CMA’s Beijing Meteorological Service (BMS).
The goal of the very short-term forecasting and nowcasting programme is to develop high-resolution forecast techniques for the 0–24 hour period. These will be based on rapid refresh cycling, local data assimilation, improvement of key physics in high-resolution models, integration and blending of multi-source data (observations and forecasts), and downscaling and bias correction of high-resolution numerical weather prediction (NWP) over complex terrain.
Diagnostic schemes of very short-term forecasting and nowcasting of key and special weather parameters for skiing and sliding events will be based on multi-sensor observations and high-resolution forecasting. The ultimate objective is to achieve up to 500-metre resolution covering the greater Beijing–Tianjin–Hebei (BTH) region (see Figure 1), and 100-metre resolution in two small domains covering the key skiing and sliding areas (Chongli and Haituoshan mountain areas). There will be 10-minute update cycling for 0–12-hour forecasts based on blending and downscaling, 1 km resolution and 1-hour update cycling of deterministic NWP, and 3 km resolution of ensemble NWP covering BTH region for 0–24-hour forecasts. This effort is being led by IUM.
|Figure 2. Locations of primary skiing and sliding centres and venues at (a) Haituoshan mountain area and (b) Chongli (OLV is the Olympic Village and CRH is the China Railway High-speed train service)|
|Table 1. Type and number of meteorological instruments to be deployed for the Winter Games|
The CMA National Meteorological Centre is leading the short- and medium-range prediction effort. This includes development of prediction techniques for the 1–10-day period based on China’s Global and Regional Analysis and Prediction System (GRAPES), satellite data assimilation, high-resolution ensemble forecasting and bias correction of NWP over complex terrain. Diagnostic schemes for 1–10-day prediction for weather-sensitive ski and sliding events based on short- and medium-range NWP are also being developed. The goal is to provide improved 3-hour update cycling for deterministic forecasts, 3 km resolution for 1–3-day ensemble forecasts and 6-hour update cycling for deterministic forecasts of 3–10 days.
The BMS Weather Forecast Office is developing techniques to provide seamless forecasting of key weather parameters – wind speed and direction, gustiness, temperature, humidity, visibility, snow, low clouds and more – out to 240 hours for different skiing events, venues and key sites. Also being developed are early warning techniques for risks of disruptive weather at individual sporting venues and other key sites based on conceptual models, bias corrections, interpretative schemes (for example, Dynamic Model Output Statistics (DMOS), and Analog Ensembles (AnEn)), and machine learning using observations and grid forecast data from both the above-mentioned programmes and other data sources (for example, the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts). Seamless forecasting and risk warning digital arrays, including forecasting/warning criteria designed especially to meet the specific needs of the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee for scheduling skiing events, are also being developed.
The CMA Public Meteorological Service Centre is developing techniques to provide intelligent meteorological services for a variety of uses and end users, including skiing and ice sport events, key traffic channels, helicopter rescue operations, public viewing, broadcast media, and other applications based on data from the enhanced observing network and new and improved prediction models and forecast techniques. These services will employ a variety of innovative approaches including information technology, artificial intelligence, data mining and cloud computing. New and improved intelligent and interactive display platforms and meteorological service applications are also being prepared to meet the specific needs of end-user groups.
An international effort
|Figure 3. Relationships and roles of the five programmes comprising the research and development project|
Organizing and coordinating the research, development and operations efforts of the five leading CMA units is an effort perhaps on par with the organization of the Games themselves. Experts from more than 15 domestic and several international organizations will be working with the Chinese scientists and communications specialists. Other operational units from BMS, HBMS and CMA, the Institute of Atmospheric Physics (within the Chinese Academy of Sciences) and Peking University, among others, will be part of the domestic team. Cooperating international organizations include the United States National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) Community Programmes (UCP), the Austrian Zentralanstalt für Meteorologie und Geodynamik (ZAMG, the Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics), Environment and Climate Change Canada, the University of Oklahoma, the University of Utah and the Korea Meteorological Administration.
Additional organizations may join the programmes in the coming months and years. Together, their objective is to provide the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics with meteorological services and support that is “Wonderful, Extraordinary, Outstanding” – the overall goal of these great sporting games.
(Source: WMO website https://public.wmo.int/en/resources/bulletin/enhanced-weather-research-and-forecasting-support-of-beijing-2022-winter-olympic)