Newsletter

Issue 3 – January 2021

News and information about EUCP, the research project that develops the foundation for a cutting edge climate prediction system for Europe.

The EUCP project aims to support both scientists and climate information providers to produce better climate information. To do this, EUCP develops innovative approaches on how to use existing climate predictions*, as well as providing new climate simulations. This will enable climate information providers to produce more consistent, authoritative, and actionable climate information in order to better support decision-makers on climate adaptation and mitigation.

 


*The term “prediction” here refers to both predictions and projections. See here for a detailed explanation on the difference between climate projections and climate prediction.

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Introduction – A reflection on 2020

We’re coming to the end of our third year of EUCP, and what a year it has been! In spite of all the difficulties that this unusual year has presented, EUCP has continued to mature and gain momentum.

In 2020, we have seen some of the scientific developments made in the early stages of the project being exploited and built on. These developments include:

      New convection permitting climate projections that are providing new information about the changes in extreme precipitation for Europe;

      Progress in both the operationalisation and application of decadal forecasts which represents an important step towards a wider use of the information produced by these forecasts;

      New science on understanding how applying constraints to long-term climate projections is contributing to our understanding of future European climate.

In early March, the whole EUCP Project team was due to travel to meet in Delft for our third General Assembly at Deltares. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to rapidly re-plan to meet via Zoom instead! While it has been disappointing to miss out on real-life interactions this year, we’re learning fast about how to work together when we’re apart. One of the benefits of having to rapidly improve our remote-working practices is that it makes it easier to include people who might be unable to travel. While we’re looking forward to being able to meet face-to-face again, we have all learnt some new ways of working which we’ll continue to use when things get back to ‘normal’.

An update from the Multi-User Forum: looking forward to our first workshop!

EUCP aims at involving end users closely through an interactive approach to ensure its research targets their needs. One aspect of this approach is the Multi-User Forum (MUF), which brings together representatives from public bodies and authorities, civil society organisations, businesses, risk-related partnerships, financial organisations and academic institutions. These work with the project scientists to influence the design of the climate prediction system that EUCP is developing.

The MUF will build on the momentum started in 2020 by holding its first workshop on the 8th of February 2021. This workshop will aim at assessing whether MUF members can use the data produced by EUCP directly, or whether they require additional guidance to do so. The workshop will also explore areas where EUCP science could focus on to increase the actionability of climate information.

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Paper Updates

      Constraining Projections Using Decadal Predictions, Befort et al., Geophysical Research Letters

 

Example for constrained uninitialized sub ensemble (green) using decadal predictions ensemble mean (blue) for surface temperatures over the North Atlantic Gyre region. Unconstrained projection ensemble mean is shown in gray and observations (HadCRUT4.6) in black. Ensemble mean values are shown as thick lines, whereas thinner lines show individual ensemble members (unconstrained projections and decadal predictions only).

Initialised decadal predictions, which use data about today’s climate to model climate changes up to 10 years in the future, have undergone rapid development recently. This type of model however is not suitable for longer timescales, and the increasing demand for climate information out to 50 years in the future must be met with weaker, uninitialised projections. This paper presents a new technique developed by Daniel Befort and colleagues at the University of Oxford and ECMWF, which chooses a subset of 50-year uninitialised projections based on which are closest to decadal predictions in their first 10 years. The figure above shows an example of applying this constraint for the North Atlantic Gyre regions. As long as initialised predictions are better than uninitialised models, this approach brings significant benefits in the long-term projections, even beyond the 10 years covered by the decadal predictions. This improved information allows policymakers and communities to make better informed decisions around climate adaptation and mitigation, using more skilful projections of how the climate may change in the coming decades.

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      Improved Decadal Predictions of North Atlantic Subpolar Gyre SST in CMIP6, Borchert et al., Geophysical Research Letters

Time series of SPG SST anomalies in observations (thick black), HC5 (cyan), HIST5 (blue), HC6 (black), and HIST6 (red). Shading shows the spread of the single model ensemble means represented in the multi-model ensemble mean. HC5 (6 members) HC6 (7 members) refer to initialised decadal predictions made available via CMIP5 and CMIP6 respectively and HIST5 (30 members) and HIST6 (28 members) refer to uninitialized historical runs from from CMIP5 and CMIP5

The sea surface temperatures around the North Atlantic Subpolar Gyre (SPG), a circulating ocean current system, are an important indicator of its impacts on weather in the area, including Europe. In this study, Leo Borchert along with colleagues from France and the UK, assessed the ability of our latest climate models to predict these temperatures. Successfully doing so offers the possibility of predicting their weather impacts in advance. They found that the new CMIP6 models make markedly better predictions than their CMIP5 predecessors, explaining up to 84% of the observed temperature variance. Initialised projections, using accurate observational data about the current climate to help improve simulation accuracy, explain significantly more variance than uninitialised projections. These findings will help us better predict the influence of North Atlantic temperatures on European weather, including extreme weather events, up to 10 years in the future. This will in turn allow people and policymakers to put more effective plans in place to adapt to, and mitigate the impact of, future climate change.

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      Reduced global warming from CMIP6 projections when weighting models by performance and independence, Brunner et al., Earth System Dynamics

Time series of temperature change (relative to 1995–2014) for the unweighted (gray) and weighted (colored) CMIP6 mean (lines) and likely (66 %) range (shading). Three observational datasets (ERA5, MERRA2, BEST) are also shown in black; note that the BEST observed dataset is not used to inform the weighting and is only shown for comparison here

Improving our projections of future climate change is key to preparing for the impacts it may bring. Here, Lukas Brunner and colleagues investigated whether giving climate models different levels of weight based on their similarity and ability to simulate the past will improve the climate projections of model ensembles. The team found a 17% increase in skill in the weighted ensemble over the historical period, and slightly lower predictions of average future warming than when using an unweighted ensemble (3.7°C against 4.1°C by 2100 in a high-climate change scenario). The uncertainty range of the weighted ensemble was also lower. This represents a useful way to potentially improve our future climate predictions, allowing policymakers to enhance their strategies to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of future climate change.

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Events

● EUCP & Bellhouse: Listening to a European storm

Between September and November 2020, EUCP took part in a fascinating experiment at the interface of Art and Science: the Bellhouse project. Bellhouse is an interactive sound sculpture conceived by artist and ceramicist Roop Johnstone, which was commissioned by Climateurope to translate various climate data into the sound of 34 bells. By translating climate data in a surprising and unorthodox way, Bellhouse makes us question how we choose to represent it, and how our climate data is heard as a result.

To participate, EUCP Work Package 2 scientist Segolene Berthou provided a short animation showing a high resolution simulation of a storm – a small portion of what the High resolution regional climate model used in EUCP can produce. Bellhouse played the animation through its bells and created this video: you can now enjoy the sound of stormy rain while staying dry!

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● Science to Policy

The Climate Science2Policy workshop, organised by the  European Commission’s EASME (Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises), took place virtually on the 17th and 18th of November 2020, bringing together a cluster of EU climate modelling projects, including EUCP, CRESCENDO, PRIMAVERA, APPLICATE, CONSTRAIN, BLUE ACTION, & 4C. Around 180 participants attended the 2-day event that was held online because of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the aim to ensure a continuation of a climate science dialogue at the European level.

EUCP Climate science communicator Alexander Askew and project management team member Carol McSweeney both acted as session rapporteurs for the event, reporting back to delegates on the second day of the workshop on the following topics:

● Work done under the PRIMAVERA and CRESCENDO projects, including the improvements in CMIP6 models over their CMIP5 predecessors, the importance of model resolution in simulating important climate phenomena and the latest advances in using emergent constraints with Earth system models.

● Some of the science highlights of the EUCP-CRESCENDO session, such as the new opportunities for using decadal predictions that have been made possible by new science and operationalisation activities. The new results from high resolution convection permitting model simulations were also highlighted: these offer new insights into the nature of extremes under a warmer climate that are needed to build greater resilience in Europe.  

● Discussions on how best to communicate and disseminate results produced by all H2020 projects, especially to a policymaker audience. Valuable discussion also took place around advancements in computing and data infrastructure and how they pertain to climate science, particularly in the field of data sharing.

Science presentations showcasing the latest results from the projects involved in the workshop are now available here

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European Climate Prediction system: producing actionable climate information for risk-based planning

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