Predictions and projections of climate can help governments, businesses and other stakeholders better plan how to deal with the challenges and opportunities that a changing climate brings.
EUCP (European Climate Prediction) is a research project that supports both scientists and climate information providers to produce better climate information for these users, as well as directly producing some of this information.
It develops cutting-edge approaches to using climate predictions and projections, as well as providing new climate simulations, never rolled out before on a European level. This lays the foundation for a future regional climate prediction system for Europe.
What problem is EUCP addressing?
In Europe, many different climate predictions and projections (global, regional and national) are available for users of climate information, ranging from governments to businesses, national and international organisations and programmes, industry and private consultancies.
However, we identified prior to EUCP that a number of barriers to incorporating available climate information into planning and decision making remained. These barriers include:
- Gaps between the types of information that are required versus the kind of information available.
For many decision and policymakers, the information available from climate simulations is not at the appropriate spatial and time scales they need to form their climate-related risk assessments, or their climate action plans. For example, some decision makers require information that spans a range of time scales, from a few months or a year ahead to decades into the future. Currently, decadal predictions (a few months up to a decade into the future) and longer-term climate projections (several decades into the future) are separate products because they require different modelling approaches. Therefore, it remains a significant challenge to the scientific community to provide usable regional climate information over this range of time scales in a transparent and robust way.
- Challenges in navigating the multiple types of climate data and information available.
The wide range of available methods and products that provide information on future climate conditions can make it challenging for users to navigate and choose from. For long-term climate projection information, several global (CMIP3/5/6) and regional (EURO-CORDEX, or the ENSEMBLES project) climate model datasets are available. In addition, a number of EU countries have their own national climate projections (such as UKCP18 for the UK, KNMI-14 for the Netherlands, or CH2011 for Switzerland). While they offer useful information for those countries, they may use different methods than their neighbours. This fails to provide users who are interested in multinational issues with the consistent regional information they need.
The EUCP (European Climate Prediction) project aims to unblock these barriers through the research and development of tools and approaches that could form a future cutting-edge regional climate prediction system.
What solution does EUCP bring?
EUCP, in consultation with a range of potential users and other stakeholders, will develop the foundations for an operational European climate predictions system.
During this four-year research project, the EUCP team will develop new climate simulations and methods on how to better use existing climate predictions. This advancement brought by EUCP’s research to regional climate predictions for Europe will help scientists and climate information providers generate more consistent, authoritative, and actionable climate information. They will be available to others worldwide to develop the system further.
This foundational work will advance the current state of climate prediction and projections for Europe in the following ways:
- EUCP’s research aims at bridging the gaps between the type of information that is needed versus the kind of information available through:
- Improving the timescales for which climate predictions and projections are available to align with users’ decision timescales. This includes:
- Research to improve climate predictions for the next few years ahead (from a season out to a decade). This timescale is vital for many decision makers. For instance, in the agriculture industry this is the timescale over which new seed varieties can be developed and brought to market, or major farm scale developments, such as improved irrigation, can be made.
- Developing pioneering approaches to link together predictions on different timescales, currently divided between current observed climate, near future predictions and more distant future projections out to 40 years ahead. EUCP works at blending these together, making it much easier for users interested in multiple timescales to find the information they need.
- Improving the spatial scale of available predictions. This will be possible through the production of new very high-resolution climate simulations (scales of less than 5km), which have never been produced before on a European scale. A new type of regional climate model is used for this, which improves the simulation of atmospheric convection, a key process in many extreme weather events. This will provide the new level of detail and robustness to climate projections needed by users, such as cities planning for future flood risk.
- Involving end users closely through an interactive approach to shape the research and make sure EUCP targets their needs. For example, in addition to performing and analysing new high-resolution climate simulations, EUCP is working with a set of stakeholders from Scottish, Dutch and Italian cities to take the information through to applications for urban flood planning.
- EUCP’s research will make it easier to navigate the multiple types of climate data and information available through:
- Improving the information that can be extracted from climate predictions and projections. Many studies simply treat different models and their range of possible outcomes as equally plausible. EUCP is undertaking research to determine how likely or how robust different outcomes from different models are. This is also called characterising uncertainty and will better inform users in their decision making and planning. EUCP is researching several approaches to evaluate models based on their performance and by comparing them to observations. Some of these approaches will give certain models more weight than others based on their plausibility.
- Delivering consistent climate information across Europe. On a more general level, the advancements brought by EUCP described above will produce climate information that will be available in the same time and geographical scale and with the same treatment of uncertainty (its possible outcomes) over Europe. This would improve the many discrepancies between National Climate Projections across the European Member States, addressing one of reasons behind the confusion users can experience when navigating the European climate information landscape.