Here’s how Microsoft Flight Simulator creates its realistic weather

Microsoft and Asobo Studio have given us some extremely in depth looks into how they’re putting together the absurdly realistic Microsoft Flight Simulator, and in the latest video it’s weather forecasting that’s in the spotlight. It’s a dense eight-minute science class, but if you’re in the mood for something more breezy, you can just gawk at all the striking footage of clouds, mountains and cities. 

Like the Feature Discovery series, the latest video doesn’t skimp on the details. The Flight Sim team is working with the weather data company Meteoblue, and it’s co-founder Mathias D. Muller gives an enthusiastic explanation of how it gathers data and predicts the weather, and how it’s used in the game. 

Meteoblue split the world into 250 million boxes, and within each box it measures the wind speed, temperature, humidity, pressure and a long list of other factors. On top of that are 60 vertical layers that go from the ground to the stratosphere, getting data about the changes in weather at different altitudes. With that data, Microsoft Flight Simulator can have different weather in every single box. 

Muller brings out a big ball with post-it notes at one point, and then explains how Meteoblue uses its data to predict changes in weather using batteries and some wooden boards as props. It’s all very high school science class, but this time I’m actually paying attention and eagerly soaking it all up.

Initially Meteoblue was just going to provide data on airport weather conditions, but things quickly grew in scope, with Microsoft Flight Simulator using more and more data, to the point where Meteoblue started not just providing global data, but more types of data too, letting the game simulate ever more granular variables. 

I never thought I’d be the type of person who got stoked about weather data, but Microsoft Flight Simulator’s big ambitions are pretty damn exciting, and the massive amount of data it’s hoovering up is a significant part of how it’s able to simulate all the world’s trees, let you fly over your house and create realistic weather. 

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