How to access the right weather data for modern, sustainable shipping

Meteorologists have access to many different data sets; they use different data sets for different solutions. They choose the data sets most appropriate to analyze the weather impact of specific situations.


But, when it comes to weather data, it's not just about access the raw data; it's about how you interpret it. In shipping, this essentially means using the right data for the right body of water, at the right time to create accurate and reliable forecasts essential for optimized routing. It also means bringing in the right expertise. So it's not just meteorologists issuing guidance to shipping, it's also supported by master mariners, who use their extensive seafaring knowledge to issue routing guidance. 


Verification is key to accurate outcomes

In terms of shipping-specific weather data, verifying the data provided by vessels is essential. Tracked vessels offer new data and reports, which give the weather experts a lot of information about a particular ship. But, to support the meteorologists, there is a whole team of people employed to verify if the data is accurate.


The team considers if the data makes sense, based on the previous report. This process includes verifying that the vessel has traveled the distance reported and that it's used the amount of fuel claimed. It is a complicated process, but it's essential. 


Routing decisions affect crew and vessel safety. Providing verified data is a responsibility, crucial for supporting shipping clients. Data accuracy and forecast quality rely on applied scores that are scientifically sound, but still intuitively understandable.    


Turning Verified Data into Routing Advice

In shipping, the weather is mainly used for route optimization. That's the primary purpose of most platforms onboard ships. The algorithms run in the background and are used to support decisions to optimize the voyage. Whether your priority is arrival time, fuel consumption, or another KPI, the weather helps you decide the best route to take to make this happen. 


But, it's moving on to incorporate risk management, moving into the domain of the shore-based stakeholder. It was something that has to happen. Weather routing was the process of getting the vessel from A to B, but navigation is increasingly looking at the broader context of everything else happening. It's a part of the commercial viability of that particular voyage.


As a result, much of the weather industry is moving away from just delivering a forecast. For example, tomorrow it's going to be a southwest, 15 knots. It's moving towards assessing the impact. So yes, the weather data is still coming in, but what does it mean?


If certain weather conditions are forecast, then this is the expected impact. The analysis can include everything from the voyage, right through to the port logistics. 


Managing the risks with weather data

The verification process is actually about managing risk. It's about supporting decisions based on what we can expect from the likely conditions and what we can achieve on the risk side. For example, based on the circumstances, what is the optimal speed for the vessel on this particular voyage?


But risk can also come into decisions on why type of contract to take. What kind of threat does the weather have for a specific contract? As the weather has a significant impact on the bottom line, the risk could range from very high to very low, depending on the forecast and how services are priced in the contact.


Have trust in the weather data (which comes through robust verification) help to manage risks because it improves confidence in decision making. 


Continual updates are essential for routing and risk management alike

The process of ingesting data, verifying it, and analyzing it for routing guidance isn't a one-off. You can't just take one piece and go because the weather changes and, the longer the time range, the more forecast accuracy decreases. You have to update the forecast continually through a voyage, and share updates with both onboard crew and onshore teams, so they always have access to the latest information. 



Have you ever wondered what difference accurate weather forecasts can make in shipping? Want to know how the weather experts improve and enhance what’s available in the market? Download The Shipping Weather Forecasting Guide: How It’s Made


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