Annual to Decadal Climate Forecasting

Australia is a climate exposed nation where communities and industries require favourable climatic conditions to be sustainable. Australia climate exposure is exacerbated by the combined influences of large internal variability coupled with increasingly intense extreme events like drought, floods and bush fires driven by anthropogenic forcing. The present drought in Southeast Australia is the latest example of how climate impacts communities and industries. Many commercial (e.g. Primary producers) and government entities (e.g. Local, State and Federal) are including climate information in their annual to decadal business planning tools and assessments. Recognising the enormous potential benefit of climate forecasting on the annual to decadal timescale to Australia, CSIRO has initiated the Decadal Climate Forecasting project (DCFP). Better climate forecasting information on these time scales will help Australia to handle climate variability and extremes better. Our project is using Pawsey systems to deliver annual to decadal global climate forecast to help Australia become more resilient to climate variability and climate extremes.

Principal investigator

Richard Matear
Magnifying glass

Area of science

Climate, Climate Science

Systems used

Magnus and Zeus

Applications used

Modular Ocean Model (MOM from GFDL)
Partner Institution: CSIRO Ocean and Atmosphere | Project Code: 0315

The Challenge

Delivering better climate forecasts on the annual to decadal climate time scale is a recognised grand challenge in climate science; it is one of the World Climate Research Program Grand Challenges. This project will make a valuable contribution to this international effort by using the Pawsey system to generate a novel set of annual to decadal climate forecasts

The Solution

We have developed the Climate Analysis Forecast Ensemble (CAFE) system (O’Kane et al. 2019) and are using the system to explore the benefits to the forecast skill of:
1) more sophisticated ways to assimilate ocean, sea ice and atmospheric observations to determine the initial climate state;
2) novel ways to generate the perturbations of the climate state for delivering multiyear ensemble forecasts.
Both approaches are well developed, and we recently completed our 96-member ensemble climate reanalysis product (CAFE60) to characterise the climate since 1960. We have used a subset (10-members) of CAFE60 as initial conditions for decadal climate forecasts every Nov 1 since 1960. The forecast dataset, which includes decadal forecasts from 1960 to 2019, are now completed and are being analysed on Pawsey.

The Outcome

With the Pawsey resources, we have just completed the forecast dataset required for CSIRO to be recognised by the World Meteorology Organisation (WMO) as an annual to decadal climate forecasting contributing centre ( CSIRO, with the support of Pawsey, is the only contributing centre from the Southern Hemisphere. As a WMO forecasting centre, Australia research is connected to international leaders in climate forecasting. Further, it will enable CSIRO to redirect some of the Northern Hemisphere efforts to climate prediction features of interest to Australia

The forecast dataset is already being used by Hydro Tasmania to assess how climate forecasts could help them better manage their water resources. Further, research is now focusing on extracting utility from the forecasts. To assist in this effort, we have successfully implemented the Pangeo environment on Pawsey and are using it to interrogate our forecast dataset on Zeus.

Our effort to date has been directed at producing the forecast dataset, and we are now working on publishing our approach and initial results. The fun bit is just starting where we will direct our effort at exploring this unique dataset

List of Publications

O’Kane, T.J., Matear, R.J., et al., 2020, CAFE60v1: The CSIRO Climate re-Analysis Forecast Ensemble system and dataset, in prep.

Matear, R.J. et al., 2020, CAFE60 retrospective forecast, initial forecast skill assessment, in prep

Figure 3. Temperature outlook for 2020 based on forecasts initialised on November 1, 2019. CSIRO forecasts slightly warmer than average conditions in Australia

Figure 1. CSIRO becomes a contribution centre to the WMO Annual to Decadal Climate prediction effort.
Figure 2. Rainfall outlook for 2020 based on forecasts initialised on November 1, 2019. CSIRO forecasts slightly wetter than average conditions in Eastern Australia and dryer conditions than normal in Northwestern Australia