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Planet Mitchell


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According to The Globe and Mail, Canada is about to get a new type of forecasting technology called 4DVAR, which stands for four-dimensional variational data assimilation. Basically it’s a new processing technology that adds the dimension of time to the normal mathematical models used by forecasters.

Right now Environment Canada’s predictions are about 91 per cent accurate for the temperature one day out, give or take about three degrees. That level of accuracy drops to 86 per cent two days out, 71 per cent three days out, and 66 per cent four days away. Five days away, the maximum for Environment Canada forecasts, the predictions are about 61 per cent right.

The 4DVAR technology is expected to improve the accuracy of every forecast significantly – a four day forecast will be about as reliable as a three day prediction, according to tests, or about five per cent more accurate. That will make it easier for Canadians to plan their lives around the weather, while allowing regions to more properly prepare for weather events.

4DVAR is extremely powerful, consisting of a network of 936 processors in 30 servers, making it the 74 th most powerful supercomputer in the world.

In addition to more accurate forecasting, 4DVAR is also more accurate on a regional scale by using a grid with 15 kilometre squares, compared to the existing 24 kilometre square system.

The new technology is expected to start replacing the old system in the next few weeks, by the summer at the latest.

You can get Environment Canada’s weather forecasts online at http://weatheroffice.ec.gc.ca/canada_e.html.

Canadian video game sales up

The video game market in Canada continues to grow, with sales of games for computers, consoles and portable players reaching $776 million in 2004. That’s five per cent higher than the previous year, and another upward notch on a growth curve that shows no signs of levelling out.

Part of the boost was attributed to the release of popular titles like Doom 3 and Half-Life 2 for PC, Halo 2 for Xbox and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas for the Playstation 2.

The release of next generation portable games, like the Nintendo DS and Playstation Portable, is expected to further increase sales, as is the imminent release of next generation Xbox and PS3 consoles.

According to the Entertainment Software Association, Canadians aren’t outgrowing their gaming habits either – the average age of players has risen to 29.