What is it about?
The butterfly effect is an important way for small-scale errors in any representation of the actual weather pattern to work their way to larger scales. But this does not mean that we need to be particularly concerned about initial small-scale errors when starting a computer aided forecast. This is because small-scale errors will develop quickly when errors on any spatial scale appear in our initial representation of the weather. In practice, small-percentage errors on scales with horizontal dimensions of hundreds of kilometers may be at least as important as 100% errors in our representation of small-scale motions.
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Why is it important?
We can't observe (accurately measure) circulations whose size is similar to butterfly wings or even skyscrapers, but this inability has no practical impact on the accuracy of our weather forecasts.
Read the Original
This page is a summary of: Atmospheric Predictability: Why Butterflies Are Not of Practical Importance, Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, July 2014, American Meteorological Society, DOI: 10.1175/jas-d-14-0007.1.
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