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Posted at 06:00 PM ET, 09/13/2011

Play UK Met Office weather game and contribute to science of communicating uncertainty in forecasting


Image from the UK Met Office online weather game
The United Kingdom (UK) Met Office has launched an online weather game to assess the most effective and useful presentations to communicate information to the public on the inevitable uncertainties in weather predictions. Players of the game will help a fictitious ice cream man, Brad, run his business – and maximize his profit - by deciding where and when to sell his ice cream treats. These decisions will depend on players’ interpretation of weather forecasts with varying levels of uncertainty (confidence) expressed in differing frameworks using probabilities.

The game format was selected to maximize public participation. It is expected to be the largest and most comprehensive study into the rationale for and use of probabilities ever carried out. Different players are given different types of forecasts, the intent being to provide important feedback and information from the public about the most effective ways of communicating probabilities in weather forecasts.

Don’t expect a high-speed action game; just try to beat the highest score obtained by providing Brad good advice on temperature and rain chances in deciding his strategy for maximizing ice cream sales and, hence, his profits. Specifically, sales/profits increase when the odds at optional locations are highest for temperatures above the stated threshold value (20C/68F) and chances of rain are lowest. By just completing the game you qualify to win a UK Met Office t-shirt in a weekly prize drawing.

The game itself should only take about five minutes. Questions and requests for additional information on understanding and dealing with uncertainties in forecasts are welcome in comments section below.

P.S. Wouldn’t it neat to have a comparable game where, for example, Brad is selling snow shovels and maximizes his profit playing the odds of the temperature falling below freezing and chances of precipitation (snow) relatively high?

Related link: Background information on the nature of forecast uncertainty expressed succinctly in non technical language

By  |  06:00 PM ET, 09/13/2011

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