He works for the Met Office, on research into forecasting over the next weeks and months. It’s about understanding climate variability first – the meteorological equivalent of living the questions – and then using that understanding to project into the future.
He’s showing a graph of observed climate variability – an overall upward trend, but also a lot of wiggles year-by-year. The wiggles can go in the same direction as global warming, or in the opposite direction, giving the false impression of accelerated or decelerated warming.
In the winter of 2010-11, La Niña caused all sorts of extreme weather patterns world-wide. In winter 2009-10, the North Atlantic Oscillation and the jet stream changed massively, which generated very cold temperatures in the UK, and the country was covered in snow. These effects are happening at the same time as global warming.
It’s impossible on 12 April to produce a forecast for the 1 July, but it’s becoming more possible to forecast La Niña and North Atlantic Oscillation events and get a general picture of the likely weather patterns months ahead.
But improving the forecast is only part of the story – only you know how the weather affects yourself and your business. For example, Alberto’s father in Spain needs to know whether to plant crop A, which needs a lot of rain, or crop B, which can survive in drought conditions. So a forecast of the probabilities of more or less rain is very useful to him. A forecast of a 70% chance of lots of rain means that he can devote 70% of his land to crop A, and 30% to crop B.
In terms of living our way into future climate, how can we work together to make these seasonal forecasts more useful?
Seasonal to decadal prediction research at the Met Office
Met Office Climate guide, answering questions such as: What is climate? What is climate change? How has our climate changed? How may it change in the future?