Scientists predict average late winter precipitation in western Europe for the next decade

Posted: October 2, 2019 by oldbrew in methodology, modelling, predictions, research, weather
Tags:


We like to see a few bold predictions here at the Talkshop, even if they expect things to be ‘average’, but as these go out to ten years ahead we’ll add them to the (imaginary) list. The current very low solar minimum could be a wild card.

In a new study, scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) show that the average March precipitation, over the next ten years in western Europe is predictable using a novel method, says Phys.org.

The research team also issued a forecast for the coming years.

“Through the year 2027, the forecast indicates that we should expect, on average, wetter winter conditions in the UK and drier conditions in Portugal compared to the most recent ten-year averages,” said Stephen Yeager, a climate scientist at NCAR and co-author of the paper.

To make this prediction, scientists used a creative methodology that combines simulations from NCAR’s flagship climate model with statistical techniques based on observations.

Taken together, the approach—which was validated using “hindcasts” of conditions over the last century—yields a much more skillful prediction than could be made with either the model or observations alone.

“None of the methods alone could capture all the elements needed to make a prediction,” said NCAR scientist Isla Simpson, lead author of the research, appearing in the journal Nature Geoscience. “By combining multiple techniques and datasets, we were able to complete the picture.”

The predictions could be useful to resource managers and planners, including farmers and water managers, who rely on precipitation forecasts.

Filling the prediction gap

As short-term weather prediction has improved, thanks in part to increases in computing power and observational data, scientists have turned their attention to longer-term predictions, such as determining whether a particular region is likely to be unusually wet or dry over an extended period.

These long-term predictions range from seasonal to years or even decades into the future. When working on these timescales, scientists look for atmospheric circulation patterns that are tied to the ocean because the ocean changes at a much slower pace than the atmosphere.

For this new study, scientists turned to the NCAR-based Community Earth System Model (CESM). To test its use in making decadal predictions, they started the model using ocean conditions that approximate historic observations and then looked to see how well the model matched reality as it ran forward a decade at a time.

They repeated this for every year between 1954 and 2015, creating a robust test for what can and cannot be predicted on longer timescales.

Full article here.

Comments
  1. ivan says:

    they started the model using ocean conditions that approximate historic observations

    I assume they did it that way because using real observations it didn’t give the results that happened in reality – atypical problem with all climate models GIGO.

    Can we also assume that Stephen Yeager will have retired by 2027 so won’t have to defend the predictions, or lack thereof.

  2. JB says:

    “By combining multiple techniques and datasets, we were able to complete the picture.”

    Then they have ‘a priori knowledge’ of what is supposed to be in the picture?

  3. Curious George says:

    NCAR is based in Boulder, Colorado, USA. They wisely refrain from predictions closer to home. They hope that in 10 years there will be no trans-Atlantic flight.

  4. Kip Hansen says:

    They have active imaginations. They “predict” a decade of sea surface temperatures using a period of increasing sea surface temperatures — predict more for the future (they are not allowed to predict any drop in sea surface temperatures or they will be labelled as deniers) and then predict “more of the same” from their model which has been designed to predict “more of the same” (meaning warming and their understanding of what that means.

  5. stpaulchuck says:

    “using a novel method” So then, they used the raw data, unmolested by rent seekers? That truly would be novel. The current models are about as accurate as going through the entrails of sheep.

  6. oldbrew says:

    A question raised later in the report:

    “There is still a lot we don’t understand about that connection between the sea surface, jet stream, and precipitation,” said Simpson. “Why is there such a strong connection in western Europe in the late winter, and why can’t our models capture it?”
    – – –
    The headline is a bit misleading. A photo (of Scotland) caption in the report says:

    In a new study, NCAR scientists forecast, on average, wetter late winter conditions in the western UK compared to recent ten-year averages.

    Abstract: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41561-019-0391-x

  7. tom0mason says:

    From the link —
    “To make this prediction, scientists used a creative methodology that combines simulations from NCAR’s flagship climate model with statistical techniques based on observations. Taken together, the approach—which was validated using “hindcasts” of conditions over the last century—yields a much more skillful prediction than could be made with either the model or observations alone.”

    Just because you have got a model to hindcast with some accuracy DOES NOT mean it can forecast future long term weather pattern changes with accuracy.
    The weather/climate is a chaotic system with many quasi-cyclic factors and periods of pseudo-stability together with many loosely coupled feedback mechanisms. And a series of volcanic eruptions, or one very large one, would put paid to this model’s prediction skill.
    Lorenz’s butterfly anyone? Isn’t our weather/climate system all about Lorenz’s strange attractors and the movement around and between them. How many Lorenz’s strange attractors are there in our weather/climate system?

    Not that an ‘on average’ prediction of it being wetter in the UK and dryer in Portugal is much of an unusual event for March. Hopefully some people will live long enough to see the validation of this “Europe is predictable using a novel method” and realize that it is not a very revealing ‘on average’ prediction.

  8. Eduardo Ferreyra says:

    Governments and its employees never learn. Only smart people do. Instead of wasting zillion dollars in expensive video games they call “climate models”, they should pay Piers Corbyn some few hundred thousands dollars and ask Piers how does he make long range weather predictions with the accuracy that allowed him to earn fortunes betting…

  9. chaamjamal says:

    “Europe is predictable using a novel method, says Phys.org.”

    Phys.org says a lot of things.
    I see for example that they now have a paper on the YDIH
    the younger dryas impact hypothesis

    Here is the phys.org paper
    https://phys.org/news/2019-10-large-meteorite-earth-years-evidence.html

    And our post on the YDIH
    https://tambonthongchai.com/2019/09/10/ydih/

  10. Phoenix44 says:

    How exactly is an average over ten years useful for farmers? The next three years could be really, really wet and then we could have seven much drier years, or vice-versa. What can I do with that as a farmer?

    I know climate scientists have serious problems with statistics but do they not understand averages?

  11. ivan says:

    I know climate scientists have serious problems with statistics but do they not understand averages?

    The question should be, ‘do climate scientists understand anything other than changing real data to fit their weird ideas?’

    They certainly don’t understand the climate.

  12. hunterson7 says:

    But, but, but it’s a climate emergency!
    St. Greta scolded us!!

  13. oldbrew says:

    10-year (or longer) weather predictions can end up looking silly, with Arctic sea ice being an obvious example.

  14. Graeme No.3 says:

    I have just finished an 8 page list of Climate Predictions. 59 of the 61 predictions are probable or definite failures, with St. Greta’s “12 years to save the planet” in the improbable basket.

    The only one that we can be certain of is “Experts Warn We Have Only 12 Years Left Until They
    Change The Timeline on Global Warming Again”. (credit Tony Heller RealClimateScience).

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