WEATHER

Project conducted on fog could help to improve future fog forecasts

Dec 28, 2023, 6:00 PM | Updated: May 29, 2024, 4:09 pm

Fog seen in Salt Lake City by the capitol on Dec. 18....

Fog seen in Salt Lake City on Monday, Dec. 18. (Adam Small, KSL NewsRadio)

(Adam Small, KSL NewsRadio)

SALT LAKE CITY — A project conducted in 2022 may help Utah and other areas with complex terrains to better forecast fog.

Professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Utah, Zhaoxia Pu, along with her her colleagues conducted The Cold Front Amongst Complex Terrain project.

According to Pu, the goals of the project are to use current technology to observe fog, to understand the process involving fog formation, evolution, and dissipation, and to improve current numerical weather prediction models to better predict fog forecasts.

Pu says that meteorologists have a difficult time predicting fog because of the complexities of fog formation

“Our understanding is limited. In order to accurately forecast fog we should better understand the process that controls fog formation,” said Pu.

One reason it is difficult for meteorologists to see is due to the coarseness of the weather detection programs.

“Because fog is clouds near the ground,” said Pu, ” it requires a high-resolution model to resolve it, so we need models at a very fine scale, which are computationally very expensive. The current models (relatively coarser in resolution) are not capable of resolving the fog processes, and we need to improve the models for better fog prediction.”

Why study fog formation?

The researchers hope that the data collected in this project will help create better computer weather models to use in the future.

Between 1995 and 2004, 13,720 people were killed in fog-related accidents across the U.S. according to Pu and her colleagues.

“Fog is a high-impact weather, which has a strong influence to the aviation, so especially the airplane,” Pu said. “Also, it (influences) ground transportation. Meanwhile, for some of the fog like the, lets say, the persistent fog condition can also harm people’s health condition.”

Project details

To conduct this project, the National Science Foundation granted the project $1.7 million, according to a press release.

The project took place in multiple locations throughout Heber Valley where there was likely to be fog from Jan. 7 to Feb. 23, 2022. During that time, there were two “supersites” put in place at locations where there are frequent fog formations.

According to the research paper, the supersites consisted of  “a wide range of equipment designed to measure variables using both in situ and remote sensing platforms.”

Alexandrea Bonilla contributed to this report.

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Project conducted on fog could help to improve future fog forecasts