CSIRO technology gives Australian Olympic sailors the winning edge
Scientists from CSIRO and the Australian Institute of Sport worked together to apply CSIRO’s expertise in fine-resolution atmospheric simulation to provide very detailed wind forecasts for the Australian Olympic Sailing Team.
Success in competitive sailing is a combination of tactics, skill, practice, best boat technology and accurate wind forecasts. The Australian Olympic sailing team possess all of these traits, but scientists at CSIRO gave them a significant tactical advantage through their application of the Conformal Cubic Atmospheric Model (CCAM) to provide high-resolution, near time forecasts of conditions expected on the sailing course.
Scientists at CSIRO gave the Australian Olympic sailors a significant tactical advantage through their application of the Conformal Cubic Atmospheric Model (CCAM).
Dr Jack Katzfey, from CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, says CCAM was originally developed to generate regional climate simulations using high-resolution space and time technology. It can be adapted to accurately provide detailed wind forecasts anywhere in the world.
“The weather simulator is based on a projection of the world onto a cube, which through its unique formulation can be ‘stretched’ in order to provide high spatial resolution over any portion of the globe,” he says.
The Australian Olympic Sailing Team’s meteorologist, Dr Bruce Buckley, interprets these forecasts, along with other sources of meteorological information, and presents them to the sailing team and their coaches prior to a race in order to give them the best possible chance of success.
The technology had been used in the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and leading wind forecast website PredictWind, as well as contributing to the success of the Swiss sailing team, Alinghi, at the America’s Cup in 2003 and 2007, as well as helping Australia win gold in London,.
“Most forecasting systems enforce artificial boundaries that can make their wind forecasts less accurate,” says Dr Katzfey.
“Our forecasting model uses innovative technology that gives us the advantage of creating a ‘stretched grid’ that provides a highly detailed wind forecasts at spatial scales of 220 meters. Being able to use this technology gave Australian sailors a unique advantage in the London 2012 Olympics.”
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