The History of Wetterturnier
The idea of creating a weather forecast challenge was born in the year 1976 in Kiel by Edilbert Kirk. In the same year the first version of this challenge was launched. Together with Edilbert Kirk the forecast challenge went to Cologne in 1978 and later in 1985 to Hamburg. Edilbert lead one of the early versions of the forecast challenge at the University of Kiel, at the Institute for Geophysics and Meteorology at the University of Cologne, and at the Meteorological Institute in Hamburg as part of his lectures in “weather briefing” (weather forecast & presentation). Since the very early days the evaluation was always based on computer supported scripts. Over the years Edilbert developed four different versions of the code. For those interested in how everything started, read this article: an introduction to the very early days of the Wetterturnier by Edilbert Kirk.
In 1985 Michael Barbulescu took over the lead for the tournament in Cologne, followed by Andreas Fink in 1988 with a fresh and new evaluation script. With Christoph Gatzen the idea of this forecast challenge propagated from the University of Cologne to the Institut of Meteorology at the Freien Universität Berlin where Christoph Gatzen, Jan Hoffmann , und Sebastian Unger developed the “Berliner Wetterturnier”, the first online-version with a slightly modified rule set. With support of Marcus Boljahn this was the first team of the wetterturnier website. The first official weekend on the new platform was March 3, 2000 where forecasts have been made for Berlin. The number of participants quickly reached more than 100 after some motivated students at the FU-Berlin started a voluntary “student’s weather briefing”. Since April 27, 2001 the Wetterturnier is an international challenge as, on this date, Vienna has been added as a second forecast city. A year later, to be specific March 15, 2002 Zurich has been added followed bz Innsbruck on June 5, 2004, and, last but not least, Leipzig on July 1, 2005. To keep the whole project running Norbert Rupsch managed everything between 2006 and 2009 followed by Marcus Beyer till 2017. Beginning of 2018 a new system was introduced to replace the slightly outdated but good and mostly reliable system by Reto Stauffer. More information about the current wetterturnier team can be found on the “team” page.
The Wetterturnier Today
Since the very early days the Wetterturnier only works as there are a lot of motivated and enthusiastic members who like to do weather forecasts, learn from each other, and last but not least battle each other across the cities, Universities, and companies. A wide range of people benefit from this challenge with the goal to best predict the weather for the weekend including students, hobby meteorologists, but also professional meteorologists. For a large group of students the Wetterturnier is an integral part of their study period as it allows to apply the theoretical knowledge from the lectures to real life in a playful way and learning from other experienced forecasters. At the ETH Zürich and the Universität Innsbruck the Wetterturnier is included in the mandatory lecturs as a good and solid experience in weather forecast is essential when applying for a forecaster’s position at a weather service after University. Beside students several people from private or national weather services use the Wetterturnier to fine-tune their forecasts and to compare against others and find strengths and (possible) weaknesses. Last but not least developers of fully automated forecasts (statistical forecasts; MOS systems) benefit from the Wetterturnier to get an objective verification (rules, rankings) ans see how their methods work compared to human forecasters. The wide range of forecast parameters and the long-term archive make the Wetterturnier a valuable source for statistical analysis and to see, trac, and improve your own forecast skills. The forecasts of our “top forecasters” are among the best available and somehow shot the limits of predictability. This also generates public interest wherefore the Wetterturnier can also present itself and its users in the media. Beside experience the best of the best can win glory and honor. The best players over the full year will get a certificate and a small voucher. In addition, once a year the synopist of the year is honored.
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