Sources of near-term climate predictabilityAn overview article published in Nature Climate Change this week describes the work and vision of the WCRP Grand Challenge on Near-Term Climate Prediction. The paper also highlights operational production of decadal climate predictions coordinated through the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

"Near-term" is synonymous with "decadal" and hence covers climate predictions between one and around ten years ahead. Skilful predictions on these timescales require coupled initialized from the current climate state, most importantly from the ocean. The newly published article explores both the current skill of such predictions, which is comparable to that of seasonal predictions, as well as the challenges and opportunities ahead. Progress on decadal predictions will bridge the gap between current seasonal forecasts and century-scale climate change projections, allowing a seamless climate service delivery chain to be established.

Pavel Kabat, the World Meteorological Organization's Chief Scientist and Director of Research, commented on the article's publication: “Climate predictions at decadal time scales are produced routinely now to international standards, allowing this nascent field to develop further and to adapt to society's needs. This achievement is an outstanding example of long-standing science investment and ongoing collaboration between entities such as the World Climate Research Programme and international partners in research and national prediction centers.”

Both the paper and the Grand Challenge on Near-Term Climate Prediction were led by Adam Scaife (UK Met Office and University of Exeter) and Yochanan Kushnir (Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Colombia University). A press release by the UK Met Office, Professor Scaife's home institution, puts the paper and decadal predictions into a wider context of their societal value, integration into climate services, and climate-aware decision making.

For further information on the Grand Challenge on Near-Term Climate Prediction's activities, see the GC-NTCP website.