MeteoSwiss conducts its own research projects as well as participating in national and international collaborations with universities and other national meteorological services. The findings in turn contribute to the development of new, cutting edge service products as well as the improvement of existing ones.
Research and Development
The national meteorological service, MeteoSwiss, has the task of describing and forecasting the weather and climate for the whole of Switzerland as accurately as possible.
Atmospheric monitoring and meteorological forecasting have made great advances in recent decades: today, thanks to remote sensing, it is possible to monitor regions that would otherwise be practically inaccessible. Moreover, the weather can now be predicted for longer time spans and with a greater level of detail. This is why today's meteorology is not only about weather forecasting, but also about climate prediction.
We are not yet at the finishing line. Complete, uninterrupted and error-free monitoring and perfect forecasts are still a vision of the future. Computers are constantly evolving in terms of capacity and performance, which enables ever-more complex models to be developed. This also means, however, that meteorological research is continually being faced with new challenges.
Meteorological research in mountainous areas has to deal with an added level of complexity: The Alps form a natural barrier which can divert, change or even create entire large-scale weather systems. Local phenomena, such as Foehn winds for example, are only ever caused by the presence of the Alps, and are difficult to predict.
Furthermore, the Alpine region is a particularly susceptible and complex one, that reacts very sensitively and in very localised ways to short-term extreme events as well as long-term changes such as global warming.
Positioning of MeteoSwiss in the research landscape
MeteoSwiss is continually investing in innovation and development to enable it to fulfil its remit and to deliver state-of-the-art services for the benefit of the economy and in the interests of public safety. The findings of pure research carried out by universities cannot generally be applied directly to the production of meteorological services. They first have to undergo further development to be adapted to the needs of operational applications. For MeteoSwiss, it is therefore applied research along with development of new production methods and new weather and climate products which are of paramount importance.
Close cooperation with universities and the research institutions of ETH Zurich is fundamental to the seamless transition from university research to internal applied research and development at MeteoSwiss. Given the strong international nature of the meteorology and climatology field, cooperation with foreign research institutions and meteorological services is very important, as is participation in international research and development activities.