Wspólnotowy Serwis Informacyjny Badan i Rozwoju - CORDIS

FP7

SPECS Report Summary

Project reference: 308378
Funded under: FP7-ENVIRONMENT

Periodic Report Summary 2 - SPECS (Seasonal-to-decadal climate Prediction for the improvement of European Climate Services)

Project Context and Objectives:
SPECS is initially motivated by the need to develop 1) a new generation of European climate forecast systems that makes use of the latest scientific progress in climate modelling and in operational forecasting, 2) efficient local and regional forecast methods that produce skilful and reliable predictions over land areas for both the local and large scales, 3) clear examples of how actionable this climate information is for a range of stakeholders and 4) a strategy to disseminate and illustrate the usefulness of improved, high-quality climate prediction information and to integrate it with other climate services initiatives focusing mainly on the long-term climate change problem. SPECS aims to identify the main challenges in s2d prediction and illustrate a range of solutions from a seamless perspective, both in terms of time scale, and between information producers and users. SPECS proposes a number of specific, innovative global forecast system experiments to test hypotheses for the improvement of s2d predictions. These experiments will deliver not only a better understanding of the role of the natural modes of variability, the initial state and the description of the crucial processes for climate prediction, but will also test radical changes to forecast systems in terms of variable radiative forcing (natural and anthropogenic) and an increase in spatial resolution in global forecast systems. The improved systems will grow from existing state-of-the-art climate prediction models, data assimilation systems, objective combination and downscaling methods which have been developed in a disparate set of projects, informal cooperative initiatives and operational prediction activities that have emerged in the context of different time and spatial scales. SPECS will also integrate multidimensional observational data sets of the coupled atmosphere-ocean-cryosphere-land surface system into the production of climate information, both for the preparation of better initial conditions and for the post-processing of the predictions. The predictions will be regionalised and improved through statistical combination from different sources. The increased understanding will offer better estimates of the risk of high-impact extreme climatic events, a series of both recent and historical ones having been selected for detailed study. The project includes illustrating to what degree the proposed developments in current climate forecast systems will contribute to improving the reliability, accuracy and value of regional and local operational climate forecasts and to disseminate actionable climate information. New services to convey local and regional climate information based on predictions and its quality will be used in operational climate prediction and a list of stakeholders that have already expressed their interest in interacting with SPECS.
SPECS will deliver a new generation of European climate forecast systems, including initialised Earth System Models (ESMs) and efficient regionalisation tools to produce quasi-operational and actionable local climate information over land at seasonal-to-decadal time scales with improved forecast quality and a focus on extreme climate events, and provide an enhanced communication protocol and services to satisfy the climate information needs of a wide range of public and private stakeholders. This grand challenge is at the centre of SPECS’ overarching objectives that will push the boundaries of the current capability in climate forecasting and dissemination of information
The SPECS philosophy is unique in that it addresses its objectives by integrating and testing the consolidated knowledge on climate modelling and impact assessment generated by other EU-funded, nationally- and internationally-sponsored projects and operational activities to optimise the project outcome and achieve a maximum impact.

Project Results:
The SPECS project has completed 36 months of activity with some deviations from the original plan but a long list of achievements. New forecast systems have been developed, some after investing a large amount of technical and scientific effort (for instance, in those associated with the increased resolution experiments), and a number of sensitivity experiments have been completed. The experimental set ups defined in the project have made their way into pre-operational suites, like the one testing the impact of the land-surface (both soil moisture and vegetation) and the sea-ice components. The experiments assessing the specification of the atmospheric composition in climate forecast systems, which are a novelty of the project, have progressed well with the first results from those assess the impact of the volcanic and tropospheric aerosol as well as those considering the variability of the solar irradiance. In all these cases process-based verification and model assessment has been undertaken, which lead to an increased understanding of the mechanisms involved and allowed going beyond the model dependence of the results. The analysis of the selected extreme climate events defined in one of the cross-cutting topics, like the European summers or the North Atlantic multiannual shifts, has been used to build stories not generally contained in the comprehensive forecast quality assessments and to better engage with a number of stakeholders, particularly with the EUPORIAS partners. A word should be said about the development of common software for forecast quality assessment and bias adjustment, which is regularly publicly released using free software and proved having an impact, thanks also to its comprehensive documentation and tutorials, well beyond Europe.
Many of the results obtained during this period have illustrated the importance of considering model improvement as not just a problem of the coupled model used, but also of the whole forecast system (including the initialization). This means that while the initialization approach should be developed and thoroughly tested as it happens with the climate models, the climate forecast system has to engage with other communities using the same climate models in different contexts (paleomodelling, long-term climate change). This is achieved, thanks to both the technical investment (in for instance data storage and dissemination) and coordination efforts of many SPECS partners, by liaising with the activities undertaken in the framework of the next Coupled Model Intercomparison Project or in the new climate modelling H2020 projects (like PRIMAVERA), among others. Some partners have been heavily involved in discussions with other communities to ensure that the SPECS legacy goes beyond an improvement of operational climate forecast systems and, instead, pave the way for a more seamless way of working in climate modelling across many time scales. A good example of this new way of addressing climate forecast system development are the recent results on the initial shock and drift, some of the reasons suspected to limit the conversion of the untapped predictability into effective skill. As a result, SPECS has inspired and will lead the efforts of the World Climate Research Programme to bring together climate modellers and forecasters to decide how to interpret the model drift in climate forecasts using the information about the climate model systematic error in stationary mode. A workshop is planned in May 2016 to materialize these efforts.
Complementary forecasting tools, such as those used for empirical downscaling, statistical forecasting and multi-model combination have been thoroughly explored. Public software packages have been released to allow the community and a range of stakeholders to perform these analyses and produce the specific climate information that they require. This has been complemented with an unprecedented series of information factsheets, available from the SPECS web site, which target a wide audience. These factsheets try to satisfy the requests for basic information on climate forecasting, an aspect that has been widely covered for the climate change problem, but not for climate prediction.
These activities, and many others in the project, are ensuring a long-term legacy for SPECS and a substantial increase of the European contribution to the developing field of climate services. It is very important to remember the fruitful collaboration established with the EUPORIAS project. Both projects communicate regularly, exchange information and share data and results to maximise the return of the European investment in climate prediction and services research.

Potential Impact:
The expected final results are as follows:
* achieve an objective exhaustive evaluation of current forecast quality from dynamical, statistical, and consolidated systems to identify the factors limiting s2d predictive capability
* test specific hypotheses for the improvement of s2d predictions, including novel mechanisms responsible for high-impact events using a process-based verification approach
* develop innovative methods for a comprehensive forecast quality assessment, including the maximum skill currently attainable
* facilitate the integration of multidimensional observational data of the atmosphere-ocean-cryosphere-land system as sources of initial conditions, and to validate and calibrate climate predictions
* achieve an improved forecast quality at regional scales by better initialising the different components, an increase in the spatial resolution of the global forecast systems and the introduction of important new process descriptions
* assess the best alternatives to characterise and deal with the uncertainties in climate prediction from both dynamical and statistical perspectives for the increase of forecast reliability
* achieve reliable and accurate local-to-regional predictions via the combination and calibration of the information from different sources and a range of state-of-the-art regionalisation tools
* illustrate the usefulness of the improvements for specific applications and develop methodologies to better communicate actionable climate information to policy-makers, stakeholders and the public through peer-reviewed publications, e-based dissemination tools, multi-media, examples for specific stakeholders (energy and agriculture), stakeholder surveys, conferences and targeted workshops
* support the European contributions to WMO research initiatives on s2d prediction such as the GFCS and enhance the European role on the provision of climate services according to WMO protocols by creating examples of improved tailored forecast-based products for the GPCs and participating in their transfer to worldwide RCCs and NHMSs

SPECS should be at the end of its life time, among other things, the glue to coalesce the outcome of many different research efforts that hardly took the climate prediction problem into account, climate services operators (both public and private) with few resources to individually make real developments of the products currently available and a unique set of stakeholders and international institutions willing to exploit the ambitious outcome that SPECS will lead to.

List of Websites:
www.specs-fp7.eu

Contact

Rodriguez, Mar (Project Manager)
Tel.: +34935679977
E-mail
Record Number: 184050 / Last updated on: 2016-06-09
Information source: SESAM