The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has expressed the need for
more robust climate information for economic, industrial and political
planning. Despite this, progress in seasonal-to-decadal forecasting in
Europe has been slow compared to short-term weather and long-term
anthropogenic climate change predictions.
Increasing forecast quality on these timescales is the focus of the EU-funded 'Seasonal-to-decadal climate prediction for the improvement of European climate services' (SPECS)
project. A partnership of 13 countries, it also aims to close the gap in providing climate data and services between information producers and users.
Significant progress has been made in increasing the spatial resolution of forecasts by better initialising different components. This includes the role of interactive vegetation, land and sea ice, atmospheric composition, volcanic smoke and past extreme climate events.
Researchers are tackling how to reduce the impact of initial shock, systematic error and drift, which are critical aspects in improving forecast systems. The project is also working on how to better communicate climate information to policymakers and stakeholders through e-based dissemination tools, surveys, conferences and targeted workshops.
The improved predictions will offer better estimates of the likely frequency of high-impact, extreme climatic events and of the uncertainty within the forecasts. It could also improve the capacity of European policymaking, industry and society to adapt to likely near-future climate changes.