Perturbations of wind and temperature in the stratosphere, an atmospheric layer between around 15 and 50 km altitude (up to 5 times higher than commercial-airplane cruising altitude), can strongly affect surface temperatures on weekly to monthly timescales. A phenomenon of disturbance of the stratospheric polar wind structure, called sudden stratospheric warming (SSW), can lead to harsher winters in Europe and North-America. For example, the February-March 2018 (Beast from the East) harsh winter following an SSW influenced most of the Northern Hemisphere causing 95 casualties over 19 countries. There is a clear need in the industry for a platform compiling diagnostics to provide a better view of the high-altitude variability and therefore help better predict the impact of SSW at the surface.
STRATOWATCH concept processes available atmospheric models and forecasts then combines this information with a unique dataset of atmospheric infrasound (inaudible low-frequency sound waves). Infrasound dataset probes the stratosphere, filling a gap where continuous measurements are currently scarce. Recent NORSAR research has explored infrasound generated by ocean waves and which travel for long distances through the atmosphere, helping to monitor the stratosphere in near-realtime. STRATOWATCH is a web-based concept platform for stratospheric monitoring and SSW detection. This technology is in the development phase and with more research it has potential applications for seasonal meteorological-forecasting (weekly to monthly). We expect STRATOWATCH to be beneficial, for example, to investors or weather-dependent renewable energy providers.
We have developed a concept design of the pilot platform for data stream visualization with stratospheric diagnostics together with near-realtime atmospheric infrasound data. This concept received feedback from one test-user and developed to its final stage. STRATOWATCH collects, processes and presents information in a compact way to help decision making related to the energy market and weather regimes resulting from stratospheric variability. The qualification project led to two main deliverables: (1) a concept web-based platform for stratospheric monitoring, and (2) a detailed market analysis report. We also developed a roadmap for profitable business, including comprehensive analyses of market potential and test-user feedback. Our market research and the feedback received from our partners show that the concept platform is not ready for commercialization but that, with additional infrasound research, a commercial partnership with weather modeling experts (e.g., ECMWF) is feasible.