Young scientists put Met Éireann forecasts to the test

Project inspired by farmer grandfather ‘who keeps complaining they get it wrong’

Ellie O’Leary, Georgina Pettit, Ryan Nurke, Eoin Kehoe, Daniel Murphy and Sophie Burke Corish from Scoil Mhuire, Our Lady’s Island, Co Wexford, with their project on the salt level in their brackish lake at the RDS Primary Science fair. Photograph: Alan Betson

Ellie O’Leary, Georgina Pettit, Ryan Nurke, Eoin Kehoe, Daniel Murphy and Sophie Burke Corish from Scoil Mhuire, Our Lady’s Island, Co Wexford, with their project on the salt level in their brackish lake at the RDS Primary Science fair. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

The accuracy of Met Éireann forecasting has been put to the test by weather-watching young scientists from Co Wicklow.

Luke Doyle and Nathan Delamere of Avondale Community College generated a huge amount of weather data over 41 weeks from February to November 2017, notably temperature and wind-speed readings.

Their mission was to test the accuracy of Met Éireann forecasting.

The study was prompted by the verdict of Nathan’s grandfather, a local farmer, “who keeps complaining they get it wrong”.

Having processed their own data, they “have some sympathy for forecasters” and acknowledge how a changeable climate in Ireland can make prediction very difficult.

“The forecast gets more accurate as it gets closer to the actual date,” Nathan said.

They found “an overall accuracy of 84 to 96 per cent reliability for temperature and wind-speed conditions”.

“The assumption that the weather forecast is constantly wrong is not supported by our data.”

Erosion

The boys, pupils of St Columba’s Comprehensive School in Glenties, sourced and evaluated many hundreds of aerial images of their local area from 1951 to 2017 in response to what they were seeing before their own eyes; a disappearing coastline.

Universities in Ireland and the UK helped them build up their image bank.

Having identified the most vulnerable areas, they deployed GPS technology at points along the coastline repeatedly over three years to measure the exact extent of recent erosion.

Meanwhile, the potential of genetic engineering to bring biological solutions to the world’s most troublesome diseases featured in the research of Timothy McGrath (15) of Killorglin Community College in Co Kerry.

He was inspired by his late uncle Fr Tim O’Riordan, who had outlined the extent to which cholera was contaminating water in Kenya.