NIWA Chief Scientist on  the power of data in weather predictions & agriculture management

NIWA Chief Scientist on the power of data in weather predictions & agriculture management

Jochen Schmidt, NIWA's Chief Scientist for Environmental Information, had an in-depth discussion about the use of environmental data in sectors like transport, infrastructure, and particularly, agriculture with REX host Dom George.

Schmidt emphasised the significant role of data, especially in hydrology and soil science, in addressing the impacts of climate change. 

"We need to balance different needs," he said.

"You know, basically, generate milk versus looking after the environment."

A significant portion of the conversation was discussing the advancements in weather and river flow forecasting for irrigation management. With the advent of technology, including deep learning and AI, the accuracy of forecasts has improved, enabling longer-term predictions. 

These advancements in technology are seen as crucial in optimizing water use and enhancing forecasting capabilities. Furthermore, Schmidt also underscored the importance of partnerships and collaborations, as evidenced by NIWA's work with Emirates Team New Zealand during the 36th America's Cup competition hosted in Auckland in 2021.

"We pushed our high-resolution forecast down to 300m, in terms of weather parameters, waves, currents, and winds directly to Team New Zealand's management and operational centre.

"We enabled them to basically play scenarios about how the boat best races in a software sense … also at race day we gave them forecasts which enabled them in the last race particularly to take the different route to the competitor which gave us the edge in the final win."

Throughout the episode, Schmidt emphasised the potential of data in addressing the impacts of climate change, the importance of forecasting advancements, and the power of collaborations. 

His passion for bringing different types of data together for real-world applications is palpable, making the episode a riveting exploration of the intersection of data science and environmental protection.

Listen to the full chat between Jochen Schmidt and Dominic George above.

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