583 Training the Next Generation of Climate Scientists to Support Climate Services

Tuesday, 9 January 2018
Exhibit Hall 3 (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Claire Scannell, UKMO, Exeter, UK; and R. Osborne

In the co-development of climate services, providers are responsible for the appropriate production, analysis, interpretation and communication of climate information. This requires expertise in software engineering, climate science and modelling, data analysis, communication and user engagement. In partnership with other institutions, the Met Office continues to support climate service providers, strengthening technical capabilities and improving the knowledge and skills of climate scientists. We will present ongoing efforts in two areas: 1) developing climate modelling capabilities using PRECIS (Providing REgional Climates for Impacts Studies), and 2) climate service-related training courses aimed at stakeholders.

Building on the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) requirement for all countries to assess national vulnerability to climate change and to make plans for adaptation, PRECIS was developed. It is a regional climate modelling system developed over the past 15 years at the Met Office Hadley Centre. PRECIS is aimed at scientists in developing countries, allowing users to easily produce downscaled climate projections for any region of the world without requiring extensive IT infrastructure, simultaneously building capacity and drawing on local climatological expertise. These scenarios can be used in impact, vulnerability and adaptation studies, and to aid in the preparation of National Communications, as required under Articles 4.1, 4.8 and 12.1 of the UNFCCC.

Since its debut, over 500 scientists, academics, students, researchers from around the world have been trained in using PRECIS and have gone on to write a large number of reports, journal articles and national communications. The PRECIS system can run on a PC and comprises:

  • An RCM that can be applied easily to any area of the globe to generate detailed climate change predictions,
  • A simple user interface to allow the user to set up and run the RCM, and
  • A visualisation and data processing package to allow display and manipulation of RCM output.

It is currently installed and run in-country. Due to advances in both computing and advances in global climate modelling this is no longer a viable option due to (1) the increasing size of the driving datasets and (2) the difficulties in maintaining multiple installations in country on multiple platforms. Work is currently ongoing to deploy an upgraded PRECIS system on JASMIN alongside efforts to create user-friendly software tools to analyse and visualise other large climate data sets already available through JASMIN/BADC. We will discuss here the evolving role of regional modelling systems, such as PRECIS, arguing that despite these challenges such systems remain critical as capacity building and training tools.

In addition, the Met Office College is increasingly providing tailored training to support the expansion of climate services in developing countries. For example, in June 2017 a new ‘Basic Principles of Interpreting Seasonal Forecasts’ course was trialled in Arusha, Tanzania. The course is designed to bring together Met services and advisors from priority stakeholder groups to improve the interpretation and communication of seasonal forecast products. The course designed for an African audience incorporated a range of blended learning techniques to engage advisors from priority stakeholder groups including water, agriculture and energy with zonal officers from the Tanzania Meteorological Agency.

Blended learning techniques are increasingly being used as a best practice training measure, having successfully been trialled to engage stakeholders with climate services training across the East African Region such as training delivered to East African Meteorological Agencies through the WISER (Weather and Climate Information Services for Africa) programme. As the demand for climate services increases, and advances in technology change the way we produce and consume information, we argue that capacity building and training activities need to evolve. The community must coordinate to ensure training activities are complementary, strategically aligned, adopt best practice training techniques, and make best use of limited resources.

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