A Truly Magical Weather Station That Multiplies

James Stalker, Ph.D., President & CEO of RESPR, Inc.

Everyone wants to know what the weather was like in the past, what it is like right now, and what it will be like in the future (from minutes ahead to hours, to days, and beyond). These are some of the fundamental expectations of everyday life. How are these expectations met today? Surface (traditional) weather stations, installed at a limited number of locations, that measure temperature, humidity, wind speed and wind direction, etc. meet such expectations to an extent in that they provide measurements of current weather conditions. Such measurements collected by these weather stations, over a period of time, can lead to a record of those past weather conditions as well. Measurements of weather conditions for the future are a different matter altogether and are not provided by these weather stations. There are several other sources of weather data from such diverse platforms as radars, satellites, aircraft, ships, and atmospheric and other earth system models to augment the weather station data. Even after combining measurements from weather stations and all of the above-mentioned measurement platforms and model output, the available weather data constitute a small percent of the required weather data (read the blog post, tilted “There Appear To Be Only 3 Options For Weather Data: Or Maybe Not,” by Dr. James Stalker for further details).

While temporal limitations are clearly impossible to overcome by traditional weather stations alone, spatial limitations are equally significant too. In other words, weather stations can only collect weather information at the locations where these weather stations are installed. Given these significant limitations of the weather stations, both in time and space, wouldn’t it be critically important to find other ways to obtain the missing weather data for the past, the present, and the future and for all locations of interest? Fortunately, there is a way. This way is through the application of robust, high-resolution, physics-based atmospheric and other earth system models which will produce weather data for the past, current, and future periods and for all locations of interest. Imagine a “weather station” that “multiplies” itself in space and time-travels from the past to the future and back to the past seamlessly. That type of weather station would be truly magical, wouldn’t it?

One such magical weather station is made possible by a robust atmospheric simulation technology developed by Dr. James Stalker at Regional Earth System Predictability Research [RESPR], Inc. RESPR atmospheric simulation technology (AST) essentially enables the underlying atmospheric processes that shape weather variables of interest, in space and time, where measurements are not available, as these processes are known to do so in the real atmosphere.

This magical weather station has many other unique characteristics. For one thing, this magical weather station is invisible. Is there a better anemometer than an invisible one? Is there a better sodar than an invisible one? Is there a better lidar than an invisible one?

Today, many weather data users may take comfort in the fact that they have sufficient measurements at their location and don’t see the critical need for the magical weather station that multiplies. The problem with this short-sighted complacency is that the moment they require weather data at other locations, as they usually do, other than where they have measurements for, their ability to obtain weather information at the other locations, based just on measurements from their own weather station, is extremely limited. This is because of the fact that weather at each location is continually affected by what is happening at numerous other locations around that location of interest. The bottom line is that your single weather station (or even a handful of them for that matter) will not have the ability to capture all the relevant effects (i.e., the underlying physical processes) occurring at these numerous other locations.

This is a significant realization all weather data users and weather data providers must come to, in order to harness the full potential benefits of more accurate weather information. In other words, you shouldn’t believe you can determine weather (e.g., wind) at another location based on the wind measurements at your location. This is because wind at another location is dependent on weather—not just wind—and at many other locations—not just at your own location. Current methods/approaches employed in producing weather data are classified as the ten-percent methods by Dr. James Stalker (read his other blog posts for details).

It should be noted that Dr. James Stalker is not suggesting that actual weather measurements by traditional weather stations are no longer required. Such measurements are indeed very important but their use is more for validating and correcting the weather output of the magical weather station than for actual use. Such traditional measurements should not be used for extrapolation and direct weather data consumption because of their severely limited ability to produce weather data of value at locations other than where they collect measurements.

In other words, don’t settle for inadequate weather information resulting from limited measurements by traditional weather stations and ineffective models. Instead, reach out to Dr. James Stalker at jrstalker@respr.com for further details about how you can obtain comprehensive and more accurate weather data by using the magical weather station that multiplies.

RESPR Customers Achieve Greater Satisfaction Through Constant Learning

James Stalker, Ph.D., President and CEO of RESPR, Inc.

In a recent blog post titled “RESPR atmospheric simulation technology based weather products are about value,” VALUE was emphasized as the key marketing strategy behind RESPR atmospheric simulation technology based weather data products (e.g., WindForces for wind energy assessment and forecasting and SunCloudConfluence for solar energy assessment and forecasting).  However, perception of that value in the eyes of customers is as important—if not more important—as the true value of the weather data products RESPR provides. The challenge to bridge the gap between perception and reality is not unique to RESPR alone, as all businesses around the world face that challenge to some degree.

Every business deals with the above-mentioned challenge differently also. Here is how RESPR deals with that challenge. RESPR strongly believes that keeping the customer well-informed about the problem they are trying to solve before offering any weather data products and solutions is the best business development strategy.

Let’s use an example from the renewable (wind) energy sector. Wind farm developers use 1 or 2 years of site wind measurements and an awful lot of statistical and empirical manipulation as a viable solution to the dauntingly challenging problem—also known as the wind resource assessment—that wind farm developers and their investors want to get a handle on. The problem these folks truly seek a solution for is about how energy production potential at prospective wind farm sites varies from one year to another year over a long period of time, say, over 30 years. RESPR always makes sure its customers clearly understand this over-arching problem. However, it is not easy to impart this message to the renewable energy project developers when the noise from the so-called established but flawed methods is distracting. In this regard, the reader is referred to several blog posts, authored by Dr. James Stalker, on the wind resource assessment topic (available at www.wind-energy-assessment.com/news/).

Let’s also give these traditional solution approaches the benefit of the doubt and agree that these approaches incorporate such understanding of the problem. But, when you inspect the solutions being offered by such approaches, such understanding becomes highly questionable. These solution approaches somehow take the one or two years of site wind measurements and produce long-term energy production projections. Needless to say these traditional solution approaches resort to all kinds of assumptions about how the atmosphere behaves over that long period of time. Since the atmospheric behavior is closely tied to the underlying physical processes and measurements of such processes are unavailable, these traditional solution approaches are usually not addressing the actual problem the wind and solar farm developers and their financial partners are interested in solving.

RESPR has spent the time (over 11 years), financial resources, and effort in developing its cutting-edge atmospheric simulation technology to produce accurate and site-specific weather data products. In addition to offering such weather data products, RESPR takes the time to inform its customers about the serious deficiencies in the traditional approaches and through such constant learning, its customers achieve greater customer satisfaction. We understand that this corporate strategy may not be a realistic strategy for all businesses, particularly, those that have to meet their sales quota every quarter, whether or not customers’ needs are actually met. As learning and teaching are two of the RESPR core values, RESPR will never do away with this critically important corporate policy to engage with well-informed customers. In this regard, RESPR comes across some potential customers that state, “We don’t have the time to learn anything new; just give us what we want.” RESPR will obviously honor such requests. Unfortunately, there is high likelihood of such uninformed customers making wrong decisions about weather data products and vendors and getting solutions that don’t address their fundamental problems.

In conclusion, when you decide to obtain weather data products from RESPR, you will not only be getting the weather data products you need but you will also be able to constantly learn about the problem and the solution being offered to you. RESPR believes this opportunity to learn about the problem is greatly appreciated by its customers, which will lead to increased customer satisfaction. RESPR will look forward to welcoming you to this learning environment. Make that decision and contact us today.

RESPR Weekly Blogs

By Dr. James Stalker

President & CEO of RESPR

[Blog post # 6] RESPR Atmospheric Simulation Technology Based Weather Products Are About Value

RESPR atmospheric simulation technology based weather products (e.g., WindForces for wind energy assessment and forecasting and SunCloudConfluence for solar energy assessment and forecasting) compete on VALUE we create for our customers. Our marketing strategy, from day one, has been to produce significantly better weather data products than what our potential customers may be receiving from our competitors. RESPR did not adopt this marketing strategy because we, at RESPR, just wanted to develop such uniquely better weather products but it is exactly because of the inferior weather products our potential customers were and continue to be inundated with in the marketplace.

If we delve into this issue a bit further, we can see there are other equally viable marketing strategies besides value such as low price, effective marketing and sales management, customer satisfaction, etc., used in some fashion by our competitors. While we also compete on those other levels against our competitors, especially on customer satisfaction and effective marketing/sales management, low price marketing strategy does not ensure the value that we primarily compete with.

Our past, current, and hopefully future customers (will) understand this value proposition clearly so they have been (will be) thoroughly satisfied to receive our uniquely better weather data products.

Some customers rightfully mention that our weather products tend to cost more than our competitors’ weather products. Our answer to them is that our value is an order of magnitude (i.e., 10X) better than these competitors’ weather products as well. As mentioned before, we didn’t intend to be more expensive than our competitors. We just wanted to create weather products that are capable of providing the type of intrinsic VALUE our customers are looking for. Only after developing a product line to address all the major holes in the offerings by our competitors, we have come to our price point to support such quality and value. When our value is there for our customers, they are not concerned about our price. The bottom line is that we are about the true value of our weather products that our customers really need and can rely on.

Some other customers also ask us why we choose not to provide inexpensive weather products similar to our competitors. Our answer is very simple. We only produce weather products that our customers really need. Our product value creation is our primary motivating factor. We realize why developing uniquely better weather products may be a difficult undertaking for other vendors as such development efforts require unique expertise that RESPR is fortunate to posses.

In other words, if all you want is to save money and can only afford an inferior weather data product, we suggest you buy none and save it all. Or, you can talk to us about how you can obtain the uniquely better weather products from us.

Here is a fun analogy, specifically for the renewable energy industry to think about. Let’s take, for example, someone who is living on a low budget for groceries. If he or she is looking for cheaper food at the expense of nutrition, she or he may face bigger problems like illnesses. Unfortunately, people have to do what they have to do to get by in life.

Renewable energy investment is a completely different ballgame altogether. In other words, investors don’t have to invest in renewable energy projects. The renewable energy industry has to offer profitable and less risky project investment opportunities for investors. Inferior products don’t support this cause, unfortunately, thereby such products discourage increased investments in renewable energy. That has been and continues to be a much serious problem for the renewable energy industry. Dr. James Stalker asks himself why people are looking to inferior weather products in the first place. Many renewable energy project developers and their pre-development prospectors do not have adequate capital to build these capital intensive renewable energy projects properly. Instead of using the traditional means of developing a renewable energy project and struggling to find the required investment, Dr. Stalker asks these folks to bring their project idea and their financial partners to us. Let’s get everyone on the same page right from the start. Let’s put more science and squeeze out subjective consulting. Our approach, at the very least, will save you some pre-development time and effort on potentially unsuccessful renewable energy projects.

Contact us today to discuss your next renewable energy project and/or other weather data related problems that you are expected to solve.

By Dr. James Stalker

[Blog post # 5] There Appear To Be Only 3 Options For Weather Data: Or Maybe Not

As we all know weather affects pretty much everything we do. Whether we are farmers, water resource mangers, energy producers (both conventional energy producers and renewable (wind/solar) energy producers), insurance companies, transportation managers, emergency managers, a host of others, including common citizens, we all stand to benefit from understanding weather. That understanding allows us to plan effectively and mitigate weather-related risk. Typical weather information we want to have at our finger tips includes temperature, pressure, humidity, wind speed, and precipitation. How do we go about getting such weather information? There are essentially three options.

  • Option 1: Use coarse-resolution weather information available in the public domain. This resolution is so coarse, you can not rely on it for your individual location and/or application. If your interest is to figure out what to wear that day, this type of information may be okay but if you want to decide on investing millions of dollars, say, in a wind or solar energy project, this data source is severely inadequate.

  • Option 2: Install a sensor (e.g., a thermometer or an anemometer, etc.) at your location and measure weather variables of interest. That will work from the day you install the sensor and continue into the future (provided the sensor is maintained properly) but you couldn’t go back and obtain past weather information of the same variable or others. Neither could you obtain future measurements of that variable at your location today. Also, for long-term measurements, you will have to wait a long time to obtain such measurements. This option is obviously impractical for many of your individual applications.

  • Option 3: Get your weather information, for the past, current, and future time periods, within a fraction of the time it takes to measure, based on the atmospheric simulation technology developed at RESPR. RESPR’s robust physics-based atmospheric simulation methods essentially fill the huge (90%) data void left in options 1 and 2. Be cautious of those methods that claim to be able to produce weather information under option 3 but all they essentially do is to manipulate the sparse weather information available from options 1 and 2. In other words, irrespective of the claim, these methods belong to either option 1 or 2 or a combination of the two. These latter methods should be labeled as the 10% methods for what they truly are, as they are dealing with the small amount of data to start with. RESPR, since its inception 10 years ago, has focused on the 90% data gap issue. RESPR can and does use weather information available in options 1 and 2 appropriately, for example, for model initiation and validation, respectively.

From the above discussion, weather information users actually only have one option—not three.

[Blog post  #4] The Difficulty in Quantifying the Extent of Global Warming or Cooling

I mentioned about the difficulty in understanding and quantifying future atmospheric states in one of my previous blogs (see http://jrstalker.wordpress.com ). This blog elaborates on that difficulty with examples.

Most of us, earth system and atmospheric scientists, other scientists and engineers, and non-scientists of all other disciplines, can easily grasp the concept that the coupled Earth system is extremely complex to understand in its entirety and accurately quantify its future states, even on short time horizons. For example, our ability to accurately predict future atmospheric states is limited to two to three days at best. And yet, scientists have always tried to forecast future states on much longer time scales such as annual, decadal, and millennial scales. What is the basis for such claimed ability to predict future atmospheric states on much longer time scales accurately? It is all based on our presumed ability to separate scales, both spatially and temporally, and treat some of those scales independently of the others to perform predictive projections of future atmospheric states. This ‘separation of scales’ certainly helps overcome the inherent difficulty noted here in accurately predicting the coupled solar-earth system but it does not actually help us solve the underlying problem that we face.

In the old days of not too long ago when sparse observations were not uncommon and limited computational resources were a norm, such unsupportable scale separation was not only encouraged but was perhaps the only and most effective approach that could be employed. We have made tremendous strides on those two fronts, i.e., the density of observations has increased significantly, just as the available computational resource. Unfortunately, though, our legacy approach based on scale separation lives on. Unless we vehemently question this fundamentally flawed premise, our new developments in computational resources and/or our dense observations will not provide any useful benefit in understanding and predicting future atmospheric states. A comprehensive and all-scale inclusive approach must be employed to advance our ability to predict the coupled solar-earth system behavior.

One relatively simplistic idea has been floated around that global warming or cooling can be correlated with the total solar radiative input into the earth system. In other words, more solar radiation increases the global average temperature while reduced solar radiation causes the temperature to drop. Sounds plausible, right? There is a problem here. It is rather simplistic and relies again on the assumption that ‘separation of scales’ can be a useful approach to solving this extremely difficult problem.

If we take a closer look at the above idea and analyze it, it becomes rather apparent that such an assumption is invalid. For example, let’s hold the Sun’s radiation output constant for two calendar years. During the first year, the weather at a location, say, Las Cruces, New Mexico (where I live), changes as it may. However, the weather on July 4th of the second year will be totally different than the weather on July 4th of the first year at that location. Why is that? We did hold the solar output constant for those two years. The answer lies in the fact that the Earth system is a giant mixer, constantly mixing fluids of different properties. This constant mixing also mandates simultaneous consideration of all scales for successful attempts to predict future atmospheric states. In the end, to that person living in Las Cruces or elsewhere in the world, the real interest is in knowing exactly how their weather changes in the next 24, 48, 72 hours and not what is happening to the so-called global average temperature. We all know that we can’t do a good enough job on the 72-hour time horizon but we claim to understand global warming/cooling on much longer time horizons. Needless to say we have a lot of work to do. I hope all nations of the world will invest adequate research funding to undertake critically important and more comprehensive approaches to understanding weather and climate.

Here is a note for those who are not familiar with atmospheric scales and the concept of ‘separation of scales.’ Let’s imagine covering the globe with a mesh of a specific size one at a time. Now let’s superimpose such meshes on top of one another from a finest mesh (100-m) to a really coarsest mesh (1000-km). Now imagine ignoring the lowest finer meshes and using only the coarsest (top most) meshes, the earth system behavior captured in these coarsest few meshes is rather different and unrealistic than when more and more finest meshes are employed in addition to the coarsest meshes. This is because atmospheric processes are known to occur in all of these meshes simultaneously. By ignoring processes in certain meshes while retaining the others gives rise to the concept of ‘separation of scales.’ This also leads to severe limitations in our ability to predict future atmospheric states accurately.

[Blog post #3] What is lost in the global warming debate?, December 14, 2009(jrstalker.wordpress.com)

[Blog post #2] On the Global Warming Debate, October 4, 2009  (
jrstalker.wordpress.com)

[Blog post #1]  The Week of August 10th thru August 16th

Title:  Am I Cut Out for Being a High-Caliber CTO?

Someone recently approached me and posed a matter-of-fact question?  If I were to pitch someone on my technology skills to be their next CTO, what would I say to them?

Here is what my response would be:

I must say I have strong background in several different technical areas.  For example, I own and operate an R&D company, where I developed cutting-edge wind assessment and forecasting products using atmospheric CFD models and supercomputing resources.  We have recently spun a high-tech company based on the wind assessment technology, where I served as its full time CTO for the past 2 years.  I had built the computer hardware systems and custom developed the software for this high-tech company and for my R&D company as well.  Additionally, I was the lead technical advisor to an innovative technology company that developed a patent pending technology to tap into wave energy.  So, my strengths are varied and in-depth in terms of professional backgrounds in science and engineering and are also rooted in software development and in putting together novel hardware solutions for high-tech companies.

More importantly, I have the technical background to help build innovative technologies and manage the technology maturation process from very early stages all the way to commercialization.  I have trained and supervised technical staff and have been trained in newest leadership techniques.  I see bottom lines clearly and at the same time encourage a little dreaming to embark on futuristic (high risk/reward) technologies.

I prefer to help start ups but mid-size and large companies are of interest to me also, especially if the terms of engagement are right, the problem is quite challenging, and the opportunity to make a positive impact is real.

For your information, a few specific areas of interest of mine are:

1.  Renewable energy technologies
2.  IT software/hardware companies
3.  Companies with aggressive patent development portfolios
4.  Companies developing computational fluid dynamics (CFD) models for many different application areas
www.respr.com), write articles for trade and peer-reviewed journals.  I have made numerous technical presentations and served on technical panels.  I invite you to check out my web site at www.respr.com or my LinkedIn profile at www.linkedin.com/in/precisionwindfounder for further details.  Let’s chat when you are ready!

I write blogs (e.g., Forbes CEO Network, weekly blogs at www.respr.com), write articles for trade and peer-reviewed journals.  I have made numerous technical presentations and served on technical panels.  I invite you to check out my web site at www.respr.com or my LinkedIn profile at www.linkedin.com/in/resprincfounder for further details.  Let’s chat when you are ready!