Research Headlines – Better weather prediction to confront climate change

An EU-funded project aims to better predict when and how severe weather will affect Europe, Asia and North America, enabling people on these continents to mitigate the adverse effects on their health and economies.

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Climate change, the resultant droughts, heatwaves, floods and violent storms and the loss of traditional weather predictive capacity will have drastic socio-economic implications in the northern hemisphere. Policymakers, business and society at large, including indigenous communities, need enhanced predictive capacity for weather and climate in the Arctic and lower latitudes to be able to adapt and respond effectively.

To meet this need, the EU-funded APPLICATE project has set up a multinational, multidisciplinary consortium to improve weather and climate predictions in the Arctic, Europe, Asia and North America. It will achieve this by determining the impact of Arctic climate change on the world’s mid-latitudes, contributing to the design of a future Arctic observing system, and enhancing capacity to predict weather and climate in the northern hemisphere.

The project will deliver the knowledge needed to design more accurate prediction systems. This will involve analysing existing systems and testing enhanced forecasting models.

One study is looking at the development of and reasons for Arctic storms, which can pose dangers to the growing human activity in the region, such as tourism, oil exploration and shipping. This activity comes as the result of access to a more open Arctic Ocean because of the significant melting of sea ice since the eighties.

Another researcher is working to understand the links between sea-ice loss and more severe winters in large parts of North America and Europe. The latter could have significant financial and health-related impacts. A better understanding of what is causing such severe events would allow people to better protect themselves from the extreme cold.

The project’s other goals include developing a research programme with external scientific partners, and training scientists and those starting their careers in the fields of climate and weather prediction and modelling. It will contribute significantly to the next IPCC reports and decision-making at global level.

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