Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Potential for successful climate predictions: Hindcast experiments capture long-term climate fluctuations

Date:
August 22, 2013
Source:
Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel (GEOMAR)
Summary:
Marine scientists recently managed to successfully hindcast climate shifts in the Pacific. These shifts also have a profound effect on the average global surface air temperature of the Earth.

This shows observed and predicted temperature changes in the Pacific during the 90s.
Credit: Graphics: C. Kersten, GEOMAR.

Will there be rather warm or cold winters in Germany in the coming years? We may have a long way to go before reliable forecasts of this kind can be achieved. However, marine scientists, under the auspices of the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, recently managed to successfully hindcast climate shifts in the Pacific. These shifts also have a profound effect on the average global surface air temperature of Earth. The most recent shift in the 1990s is one of the reasons that Earth's temperature has not risen further since 1998. The study, published in the online edition of Journal of Climate, shows the potential for long-term climate predictions.

What happened in the years 1976/77 and 1998/99 in the Pacific was so unusual that scientists spoke of abrupt climate changes. They referred to a sudden warming of the tropical Pacific in the mid-1970s and rapid cooling in the late 1990s. Both events turned the world's climate topsy-turvy and are clearly reflected in the average temperature of Earth. Today we know that the cause is the interaction between ocean and atmosphere. Is it possible to successfully predict such climate shifts? This is the question that scientists, under the auspices of the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, pursued. Using a coupled model of the ocean and the atmosphere, they were able to successfully replicate these events.

"The ocean plays a crucial role in our climate system, especially when it comes to fluctuations over several years or decades," explains Prof. Mojib Latif, co-author of the study. "The chances of correctly predicting such variations are much better than the weather for the next few weeks, because the climate is far less chaotic than the rapidly changing weather conditions," said Latif. This is due to the slow changes in ocean currents which affect climate parameters such as air temperature and precipitation. "The fluctuations of the currents bring order to the weather chaos."

The researchers used a climate model, a so-called coupled ocean-atmosphere model, which they forced with the observed wind data of the last decades. For the abrupt changes during the 1970s and 1990s they calculated predictions which began a few months prior to the beginning of the observed climate shifts. The average of all predictions for both abrupt changes shows good agreement with the observed climate development in the Pacific.

"The winds change the ocean currents which in turn affect the climate. In our study, we were able to identify and realistically reproduce the key processes for the two abrupt climate shifts," says Prof. Latif. "We have taken a major step forward in terms of short-term climate forecasting, especially with regard to the development of global warming. However, we are still miles away from any reliable answers to the question whether the coming winter in Germany will be rather warm or cold." Prof. Latif cautions against too much optimism regarding short-term regional climate predictions: "Since the reliability of those predictions is still at about 50%, you might as well flip a coin."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel (GEOMAR). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Hui Ding, Richard J. Greatbatch, Mojib Latif, Wonsun Park, Rόdiger Gerdes. Hindcast of the 1976/77 and 1998/99 climate shifts in the Pacific. Journal of Climate, 2013; 130507141645008 DOI: 10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00626.1

Cite This Page:

Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel (GEOMAR). "Potential for successful climate predictions: Hindcast experiments capture long-term climate fluctuations." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 August 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130822105042.htm>.
Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel (GEOMAR). (2013, August 22). Potential for successful climate predictions: Hindcast experiments capture long-term climate fluctuations. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130822105042.htm
Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel (GEOMAR). "Potential for successful climate predictions: Hindcast experiments capture long-term climate fluctuations." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130822105042.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) — He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Detroit's Money Woes Led To U.N.-Condemned Water Cutoffs

How Detroit's Money Woes Led To U.N.-Condemned Water Cutoffs

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) — The United Nations says water is a human right, but should it be free? Detroit has cut off water to residents who can't pay, and the U.N. isn't happy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

3BL Media (Oct. 20, 2014) — Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-fuel Impala Video provided by 3BL
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Rhino's Death In Kenya Means Just 6 Are Left

White Rhino's Death In Kenya Means Just 6 Are Left

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) — Suni, a rare northern white rhino at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, died Friday. This, as many media have pointed out, leaves people fearing extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins