Representatives from academia, government, and the private sector recently concluded a two day NOAA-supported workshop on improving understanding and prediction of extreme weather and climate from two weeks to a season ahead (subseasonal to seasonal). This workshop followed a kickoff meeting for a new NOAA Research-organized Subseasonal to Seasonal (S2S) Prediction Task Force.
Planners and decision-makers need advanced notice of hazards like heat waves, cold spells, heavy rain, and hurricanes in order to take preemptive actions for protecting communities. Previous prediction efforts have mostly focused on forecasting either days (“weather”) or seasons ahead (“climate”), but the time range in between is key for preparing for extreme events. Bridging this gap, also known as the S2S prediction gap, is recognized as a high priority both nationally and internationally.
The events aimed to advance the research goals of the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) S2S Prediction Project, under the joint auspices of the World Weather Research Program (WWRP) and the World Climate Research Program. “This team will provide an important concrete map to WMO members, “ said Paolo Ruti, Chief of WMO’s WWRP Division, regarding the NOAA S2S Prediction Task Force. “We need to make sure stakeholders understand the potential behind this effort as well as the uncertainty that this kind of prediction will have.”
Participants included Dr. Michael Ventrice, Operational Scientist at The Weather Company, whose talk discussed how he uses NOAA models to deliver timely and easy-to-use S2S forecasts for clients in the agriculture, retail, aviation, and energy sectors. He and other attendees recognized the value of the S2S effort for a wide variety of stakeholders. “It’s getting people aware that these extreme events are coming and how they can prepare for them,” said Libby Barnes, S2S Prediction Task Force Lead and Assistant Professor at Colorado State University. For example, “Do they need to let water into the reservoirs or do they need to hold on to water because we don’t expect any rain in the next month?”
NOAA Research’s Modeling, Analysis, Predictions, and Projections (MAPP) Program organizes the S2S Prediction Task Force and contributed to the workshop held at Columbia University’s International Research Institute (IRI) for Climate and Society. Regarding NOAA’s involvement in this effort, Ben Kirtman, Director of the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies at the University of Miami and S2S Prediction Task Force member, said, “It will help identify physical processes that are critically important for improving NOAA’s models, and improving the Next Generation Global Prediction System, and then ultimately improving the forecasts that are given to the public. That’s NOAA’s mission.”
The S2S Prediction Task Force Kickoff Meeting and IRI S2S Extremes Workshop were held Dec. 5th and Dec. 6-7th, respectively, at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory Campus of Columbia University in Palisades, New York.
Americans’ health, security and economic wellbeing are tied to climate and weather. Every day, we see communities grappling with environmental challenges due to unusual or extreme events related to climate and weather. In 2011, the United States experienced a record high number (14) of climate- and weather-related disasters where overall costs reached or exceeded $1 billion. Combined, these events claimed 670 lives, caused more than 6,000 injuries, and cost $55 billion in damages. Businesses, policy leaders, resource managers and citizens are increasingly asking for information to help them address such challenges.
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