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Report Issued Today Examines Improving Long-Term Climate Forecasts

September 9, 2010

UM scientist Ben Kirtman helps co-author National Academy of Sciences document

Operational forecasting centers produce climate predictions that provide input for important decisions regarding water management, agriculture, and energy. “Assessment of Intraseasonal to Interannual Climate Prediction and Predictability”, a new report from the National Research Council/National Academy of Sciences, examines current capabilities for making climate predictions — such as seasonal hurricane or longer-term drought forecasts — and identifies opportunities for improvement.

The report finds that operational forecast centers could increase the value of forecasts for officials and researchers by modifying procedures for archiving and disseminating information. In addition, improvements over the next several years to observational capabilities, statistical and dynamical models, and data assimilation systems should permit the forecast systems centers to better understand key processes — such as variables in the atmosphere, ocean, or land surfaces — that could help improve forecasts.

“There is an apparent plateau in our ability to make accurate seasonal forecasts; this report provides a road map to enable both scientific research and technical advancements to go beyond this plateau and produce seasonal forecasts that are of greater societal relevance,” said Ben Kirtman, University of Miami Meteorology and Physical Oceanography professor and a co-author of the report. “One of the more daunting challenges in this regard is figuring out how to seamlessly transition research results into real improvements in operational forecasts.”

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