Friday, September 10, 2010

Report Suggest New Strategies for Better Climate Predictions

A recent report by the National Academy of Sciences analyzes climate predictions and the difficult reality of the complex interactions between Earth's ocean, atmosphere and land; and the role they play in determining long-range climate forecasts. The report, "Assessment of Intraseasonal to Interannual Climate Prediction and Predictability," is the result of a NOAA requested study and recommends strategies and best practices for improving these complex and difficult predictions.

People all over the world rely on accurate short-term climate forecasts on timescales ranging from a few weeks to a few years to make more informed decisions. To that extent the report is recommending the following in dealing with the key shortcomings and strategies needed to make more accurate climate forecasts:

  • Continue research to better understand and use information from key sources of climate predictability, and interactions between the ocean and atmosphere, atmosphere and land, as well as volcanic eruptions, greenhouse gases and land use changes.

  • Improve the basic building blocks of climate forecasts through better physical climate models, making more sustained physical observations, better incorporating observations into forecast systems, and increasing collaboration between forecast agencies and stakeholders in developing and implementing forecast strategies.

  • Adopt best practices such as working more closely with research communities, particularly universities; making data that feed into and come out of forecasts publicly available; minimizing subjective forecast components; and using forecast metrics that better convey to the public the probability aspects of forecasts.
The report also highlights Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) events and their powerful influence on making climate predictions and long-term weather patterns. MJO events have been known to trigger the beginning and end of the Asian and Indian monsoons and influence the development and evolution of El NiƱo, hurricanes and weather in Earth's mid-latitudes. The report notes that scientists want to incorporate information about the MJO more accurately into the computer models that agencies around the world use to predict weather and climate.

For more information the complete report can be
downloaded here.

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