[Viewpoint]Change in the weather

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[Viewpoint]Change in the weather

The human body and trends in fashion change along with society’s development.

Koreans are about 10 centimeters taller than they were in the 1960s and their facial features have changed, becoming more Westernized.

The miniskirt that was considered risque in the 1960s, limited to a handful of daring celebrities, is now common attire. Micro shorts that are even more revealing have become everyday dress.

Just like physical appearance and attire, weather forecasting needs to move with the times, especially in accordance with scientific development.

The Korea Meteorological Administration has been constantly modernizing equipment, and meteorologists and weather forecasters are trained professionally now.

However, the weather forecast itself has not actually evolved much over the past 40 years.

If you compare the weather forecast broadcast in Japan with the Korean equivalent, you will see some differences.

The biggest is that Japanese meteorologists tend to inspire a greater sense of trust.

On the other hand, the Korea Meteorological Administration seems to have fallen asleep in the middle of the trail. There is a 1,000-meter-high peak ahead that we must climb but the forecast seems capable of reaching only the 800-meter point.

There is a critical need to motivate the weather specialists at the Korea Meteorological Administration and urge them to escape this low point. They need to overcome their insecurities and lack of confidence and develop a greater sense of excitement for updating their forecasting potential.

Only by adopting this attitude can we make it to the top of the 1,000-meter peak.

In the summer, southern winds moving through Japan are felt along the Korean Peninsula. However, in other seasons, the region is influenced by periodic winds with dominant northern winds moving from China and the Sea of Okhotsk, off Russia’s far eastern coast.

Korea has a unique geographic location. About 70 percent of the land is mountainous and three sides of the country are bounded by seas. The country is sensitive to meteorological phenomena in Northeast Asia.

Therefore, in order to enhance the accuracy of weather forecasts here, it is important to integrate forecasts for the Northeast Asian region with that of the Korean Peninsula.

In other words, we need a more comprehensive forecast system, one that can operate in tandem with weather experts in China and Japan, especially during the Yellow Dust or typhoon seasons.

We need to streamline the Meteorological Administration’s organization. The four bureaus in the current structure ? the Forecast Bureau, Climate Bureau, Meteorological Technology and Systems Bureau and the Meteorological Industry and Information Technology Bureau ? need to be reorganized to focus on natural disaster forecasting.

We need a Yellow Dust/Earthquake Forecast Bureau, a Typhoon Forecast Bureau, a Torrential Rain and Heat Forecast Bureau and a Snowstorm and Cold Forecast Bureau.

The nation’s 1,200 meteorological professionals need to be reassigned to each bureau according to their specialties. Weather forecasters for specific fields should be experts in their specialized fields and eventually become veterans.

Every year, an evaluation committee made up of the public and external experts could rate the accuracy of the weather forecast and use the information for setting salaries and grades.

However, even if we have a group of outstanding forecast specialists and an organization that can efficiently manage the whole setup, the proposal will be meaningless if we don’t have the data necessary for accurate forecasts.

Experts need to observe the constantly changing temperatures, pressure and winds in the mountains and over the seas. Of course, there is no need to install an observatory on top of every mountain across the country; it would be inefficient in terms of economy, environment and safety.

So the only alternative in order to observe the Korean Peninsula in 3D is to launch a meteorological satellite. The venture might cost several times more than additional supercomputers, but the data from the satellite would be highly valuable. Then, there would be no such thing as an inaccurate weather forecast in Korea ever again.

Government officials need to pay attention to the Battle of the Red Cliff in the Chinese novel, “Romance of the Three Kingdoms,” where Liu Bei’s forces defeated Cao Cao’s superior troops. Zhuge Liang’s wisdom outsmarted Cao Cao by enlisting a local man who was familiar with the local climate and able to precisely observe wind speed and direction during the battle. Taking meteorological phenomena into consideration and positioning his men accordingly helped Liu Bei win the crucial battle. Such a victory wouldn’t have been possible without Liu Bei’s unconditional trust in Zhuge Liang.

The government needs to invest in the Korea Meteorological Administration and give it all the authority and responsibility it requires.

The general public should be patient and wait until the administration is fully prepared, and then enjoy accurate forecasts.

*The writer is director, Yellow Dust and Long-range Transboundary Air Pollutants Research Center, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.

by Park Il-su
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