ECOMS 2016: Three days in Exeter

Last week I attended the European Climate Observations, Modelling and Services (ECOMS) at the MetOffice in Exeter. The conference itself lasted three days and for me personally it was the first time to pay Exeter a visit. The event was the last meeting for three EU projects, which in the days before had meetings on their own. All three projects are involved around seasonal and decadal climate predictions and cover different aspects of it. The projects were NACLIM, concentrating on the physical mechanisms and observations, SPECS, focussing on the modelling, and EUPORIAS, looking for the establishing of climate services. As such the topics and the background of the attending scientists were quite diverse, leading to interesting talks and conversations.

MetOffice in Exeter

MetOffice in Exeter

The first day started with overview talks by different institutions, who are in involved directly and indirectly with the overarching topic. An example for this was the IPCC, which imminent future during the preparation of the 6th Assessment Report was discussed. The afternoon session covered mainly the topics of NACLIM, so surrounded observations and physical processes, followed by a poster session. The later talks gave a good overview on the problems with the observational record in the ocean, which is quite short compared to its atmospheric equivalent.

At the second day the focus was set on the modelling, which in the seasonal and decadal environment includes initialisation and ensemble generation. An important tool to check the predictability of the models are hindcasts since 1979, as since then the observational data of the atmosphere is generally seen as acceptable (thanks to satellites). One discussion point was, whether this time frame is a good choice as others might deliver different results. Also bias correction methods were critically discussed. The afternoon looked at climate services, which are intended to bring the generated results to the users. As this topic is very interdisciplinary, a major part was covered by social scientists and it became clear that mainly the trust in the reliability of the current forecasts is a major issue in the process to bridge the gap between science and applications. EUPORIAS also covered downscaling and with it also this was discussed in this session.

The final day had beside the concluding talks about highlights and summaries some examples for the applications. These covered the use of the forecasts in the planing processes of aid agencies, which offer an opportunity to lead with the help of the forecasts to a better investment of the resources. A main hurdle for those who apply these information is the acceptance that forecasts over these time spans can only be given in probabilistic terms.

Generally it was a very interesting event, as it took a look on the seasonal and decadal predictions from many different angles. The amount of information was therefore quite dense, but it made the travel certainly worth it. After visiting last year the first time a conference of an EU project, it was now the second time, and as a final meeting it was of course much different to the previous one.

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