Last June Dr Doug Smith of the Met Office gave the Walter Orr Roberts memorial lecture for the Apen Global Change Institute.
The title of the lecture “Seasonal to decadal climate prediction. Filling the gap between weather forecasts and climate projections”.
Begginning, and possibly playing to the crowd, with how humans “could be” tilting the climate Pin Table towards the possibility of more extreme weather. This obviously means that it is now vital to have accurate climate predictions.
Next comes the model based evidence that only GHGs can be the cause of the long term warming trend. However natural variability can cause the trend to wobble. So this variability is where models need to improve.
The main focus is the Atlantic SST variability and its effect on other regions of the northern hemisphere. Then some explanation of model hind and forecasts, with some brief but honest appraisal of their shortcomings, notably that some of the areas of greatest failure are Europe and North America.
As winter forecasts are also an area of difficulty for models he focuses in on the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). Looking at the myriad of factors that can influence the strength of the Polar Vortex, which in turn effects the NAO. In 2012 they had no skill at predicting the NAO. In 2014 we have reasonably high skill, however the model is very expensive, ten times more expensive.
The video at this point shows an animation of how the models now can represent ocean currents carrying differing water temperatures across the Atlantic.
With these improvements, the NAO and ENSO 3.4 stand out as the areas of the highest skill, with the rest lagging behind.
After a forecast for this years El Niño and its impact on the global climate, the lecture finishes on the future of the Atlantic surface temperatures as the overturning circulation is clearly slowing. How this will impact the Sahel and Monsoon rainfall.
See the Lecture video Here