Our climate modelling and forecasts provide important insights for industry and government.
Predicting long-term climate trends with near-term impact
Australia has one of the most variable climates in the world. Our climate's natural variability is further exacerbated by extreme climate events such as drought, flooding and bushfires. Research and observations also show that our climate is changing due to anthropogenic (human) impacts, including greenhouse gas emissions and aerosol concentrations in the atmosphere.
The frequency, persistence and intensity of extreme events are also shifting. It's therefore more important than ever to understand not only what long-term future climate trends may look like, but critically, how these changes will influence climate variability (and much of Australia's economy) in the near-future.
Many of Australia's industries, such as agriculture, aquaculture and energy, are climate-sensitive and are vulnerable to extreme climate events. Adding to this, decision makers, regulators and stakeholders working across these industries often plan resource management and business decisions on the one to ten year timescale – and therefore require climate predictions that can help identify periods of increased profitability and/or risk.
Decadal Climate Forecasting Project
In 2016 we commenced a research project to tackle the challenge of forecasting the climate at multi-year and decadal timescales. The Decadal Climate Forecasting Project successfully investigated the scientific approaches and techniques needed to enable climate predictions on the multi-year to decadal scale.
Our researchers built a system called the Climate Analysis Forecast Ensemble (CAFE). The CAFE system assimilates a vast array of in-situ and remotely sensed ocean and sea-ice observations – including satellite observations, robotic instruments such as ARGO and new marine observation networks such as the IMOS (the Integrated Marine Ocean Observing System). These models provide forecasts and statistics as far out as 10 years.
We are now exploring how we might use our insights from this project to investigate multi-year and decadal forecasting in existing operational forecasting models alongside efforts with partners at Bureau of Meteorology and ACCESS-NRI.
Climate prediction on an annual to decadal timescale has the potential to deliver huge benefit to the Australian economy, as well as communities and government by informing decision-making in areas such as risk management and natural asset management.
Near-term climate prediction remains a huge challenge. Fortunately, even in early stages, advanced climate forecasts are of significant economic value and can equip decision-makers in agriculture, energy and other sectors with the knowledge to better manage risks and opportunities - in addition to informing where to best direct resources.
The Decadal Climate Forecasting (DCFP) team produced data (hindcasts) using the CAFE system that are valuable for understanding extreme climate events. Our analysis and techniques are now being deployed through the Australian Climate Service.
In 2020, the DCFP were acknowledged by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) as an accredited Global Data Producing Centre for near-term climate forecasting. The near-term climate predictions are now available through the UK MetOffice.
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