May, June, July seasonal forecast for northern Europe

The research project Seasonal Forecasting Engine issued a new forecast today (in Norwegian). The figure below shows the predicted temperature anomaly, i.e. the deviation from the average during the last 20 years.

The predicted anomalies are quite small, meaning that the forecast models indicate that the period will be neither very warm nor very cold compared to normal.

Disclaimer: Our seasonal forecasts are experimental and subject to ongoing research. We accept no liability for any loss whatsoever arising from use of this forecast.

New EU project: CONFER

A scene from the Kibera neighbourhood in Nairobi, the largest urban slum in Africa. During intense rainfall periods, garbage flows into the area from surrounding areas, and much of this ends up in roadside ditches. Flood mitigation is one of the goals of CONFER. Photo by Erik Kolstad, taken in 2018.

In September, a new EU-funded Horizon 2020 project will start. CONFER will be led by Erik Kolstad at NORCE and is a multi-national collaboration to bolster resilience to climate impacts and reduce disaster risk in East Africa, potentially reaching 365 million people in 11 countries. The project has eight other partners from Kenya, South Africa, Norway, UK, and Germany.

The main objective of CONFER is to co-develop dedicated climate services for the water, energy and food security sectors with stakeholders and end-users, to enhance their ability to plan for and adapt to seasonal climate fluctuations.

The scientific work in CONFER is ambitious and aims to break new ground along three inter-related tracks. First, we will secure end-user engagement by using the Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Fora, which are organized by CONFER partner ICPAC three times per year and attract about 200 stakeholders, as platforms for co-production of new and dedicated climate services for our focus sectors. By fostering a two-way dialogue between our scientists and a large group of stakeholders and end-users, we will create enthusiasm and raise awareness to ensure that the value of our new science and products is fully realized by those who need them the most.

Second, we will improve on the accuracy and local detail of numerical prediction model outputs for East Africa, with a particular focus on seasonal prediction.

Third, we will develop statistical and machine learning tools to obtain a new level of seasonal forecast skill based on numerical models and high- resolution satellite data.

We will also involve our scientific experts in a large training and capacity development programme designed to enhance climate information uptake in our focus sectors. Our research and outreach address important IPCC topics, the sustainable development goals, and the expected impacts in the call for proposals. We will aim to influence policymaking through frequent interaction with stakeholders at the climate outlook fora, by publishing policy briefs, and by organizing an open conference on climate services in Africa in 2023.

Seminar om klimarisiko

OPPDATERING: Seminaret er utsatt grunnet koronakrisen.

Vil noen av de verste konsekvensene av naturkatastrofer kunne unngås? Kan viktige næringer tilpasse seg ekstremvær lang tid i forveien? Vil kraftprisene svinge mindre? Hva med forsikringene våre? Blir vi rett og slett bedre forberedt og hvilke konsekvenser har det?

Mandag 30. mars 2020 arrangerer NORCE, Bjerknessenteret og NHH et lunsjseminar om klimarisiko. Det blir kun anledning til å delta med gyldig billett. Gratis påmelding via Eventbrite.

Varslingsmodellene ga tydelige signaler om tørken sommeren 2018. Om dette var et offisielt varsel som ble gitt og tatt hensyn til allerede i juni eller tidligere, hvordan kunne det vært utnyttet? Sammen med eksperter på feltet forsøker vi å gi noen svar på hvordan lange varsler kan gjøre verden smartere og tryggere. 

Et viktig punkt er hvordan klimavarsler tas inn i risikovurdering. Dette gjøres i liten grad i dag, ifølge Regjeringens klimarisikoutvalg. Derfor har NORCE og Bjerknessenteret opprettet initiativet Climate Futures, sammen med NHH og fremoverlente aktører i næringslivet.

Dette har blant annet ført til en søknad om midler til et nytt Senter for forskningsdrevet innovasjon (SFI). Til dette seminaret kommer representanter for sektorer der varsling av klimarisiko forventes å ha stor betydning. Seminaret vil gi innblikk i hvordan disse blir påvirket av værforhold, og hva enkelte aktører tenker rundt mulighetene dersom de visste været «i stort» for de kommende månedene.

Her er det åpenbare samfunnsgevinster, men denne typen varsler vil også kunne legge føringer på hvordan næringer innretter seg og drives. Trusler kan reduseres, og vi kan øke konkurranseevnen basert på fremtidskunnskap om vær, vann og vind.

Seminaret arrangeres som en del av prosjektet Seasonal Forecasting Engine, som er finansiert av Norges Forskningsråd.


10:00 – Velkommen ved Øyvind Paasche, Bjerknessenteret og NORCE

10:05 – Hva menes med klimarisiko? Linda Nøstbakken, Prorektor NHH, medlem av klimarisikoutvalget

10:20 – Lange værvarsler: Erik Kolstad, NORCE og Bjerknessenteret

10:35 – Norges forhold til klimarisiko: Klima- og miljøminister Sveinung Rotevatn

10:50 – Klimarisiko innen energi-kraftproduksjon: Jannicke Hilland, adm.dir. BKK

11:00 – Klimarisiko innen bank/finans: Ragnhild Janbu Fresvik, konserndirektør Sparebanken Vest

11:10 – Havvind: en demper av klimarisiko? Beate Myking, direktør for fornybare løsninger, Equinor

11:20 – Klimarisiko innen forsikring: Espen Opedal, adm.dir. Tryg Norge

11:30 – Klimarisiko innen shipping: Erlend M. Knudsen, Global Sustainability Manager, StormGeo

11:40 – Åpen diskusjon med panel bestående av innledere

12.00 – Påskevarsel, lunsj og sosialt


Workshop: How climate change is shaping Africa

Children in the Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya, which is prone to flooding. Photo by Erik Kolstad

UPDATE: The seminar is postponed due to the Corona crisis.

The Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research at the University of Bergen and Christian Michelsen Institute (CMI) are organizing a one-day, invitation-only workshop entitled How climate change is shaping Africa. The workshop will take place at Litteraturhuset in Bergen from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on 21 April 2020, ending with a workshop dinner. Norway’s minister of international development, Dag Inge Ulstein, has agreed to open the workshop, and Henrik Urdal – the director of PRIO – will give one of the keynote presentations.

The goal of the workshop is to identify new opportunities for cross-disciplinary research on climate change and African development in Norway. Structurally, the workshop will consist of two parts: 1) Invited keynote presentations covering policy, scientific challenges, and knowledge gaps and needs; and 2) Group work to discuss concrete opportunities for research proposals (identify relevant calls, construct proposal outlines). We also aim to write a policy brief or perspective article based on the discussions.

If you would like to participate (or if you know someone who might), please get in contact with Erik Kolstad at the Bjerknes Centre and/or Aslak Orre at CMI as soon as possible.

Programme (subject to change):

  • 10.00: Opening keynote by Dag Inge Ulstein
  • 10.15: Keynote presentation by Henrik Urdal
  • 10.45: Two more keynote presentations
  • 11.45: Break
  • 12.00: Plenary discussion
  • 12.30: Lunch
  • 13.30: 6 x 10+5 minute presentations
  • 15.00: Break
  • 15.15: Group work
  • 16.45: Break
  • 17.00: Plenary discussion
  • 18.00: Dinner at Colonialen

Climate Futures SFI proposal submitted

Repairs in Odda following the flooding in October 2014 (Erik Kolstad)

On 25 September 2019, we submitted a proposal for a new Centre for Research-Based Innovation. With six research partners and nearly 30 user partners, the centre will launch in late 2020 if it receives a grant from the Research Council of Norway.

Our aim is to better tackle one of the most urgent challenges of our time, namely that the changing nature of weather and climate poses a severe threat to the prosperity and well-being of our economy and society as a whole, but climate risk is inadequately managed due to knowledge gaps and deficiencies in the decision-making processes of businesses and public authorities.

We will address this critical challenge by working with a large group of partners to co-develop better methods and practices for climate risk management.The main objective of the centre will be to co-produce new and innovative solutions for predicting and managing climate risks from 10 days to 10 years into the future with a cluster of partners in climate- and weather-sensitive sectors.

The breadth and commitment of our consortium testify to an indisputable need for a large and cross-sectoral centre for addressing climate risks. It unites world-leading weather and climate scientists, economists and statisticians with industrial sectors – food production, energy, shipping, insurance, management consulting and risk management – and public authorities in all parts of Norway. Together, we will expand established collaborations and ongoing initiatives to create an active industry-oriented research cluster.

June 2019 forecast

One of our projects, Seasonal Forecasting Engine, recently published their June forecast based on five numerical weather prediction models. The June forecast was remarkable in that it predicted almost no temperature anomalies in Northern Europe. When we sum up in July, we will probably find that some regions experienced either warm or cold anomalies, but there was no consistent signal across the models this time.

In Climate Futures, we will make use of advanced statistics and machine learning to create algorithms that improve the skill of forecasts going from 10 days to 10 years into the future. The key will be to learn how different climate variables interact and then to use that knowledge to make better use of the physical models. Erik Kolstad, the PI of the SFE project, was the lead author of a 2017 article on the different roles that snow cover, soil moisture and soil temperature play in dictating the persistence of temperature from month to month.

A key figure in that paper showed which of these variable were the most important mediator of persistence in winter and summer:

The colours in each panel show that dominant mediator in winter (top row) and summer (bottom row) for two different reanalysis products, ERA-20C (left column) and 20CR (right column). Yellow colours indicate that snow depth is the most important mediator, while red and blue colours mean that soil temperature and soil moisture, respectively, dominate.

At midlatitudes, snow depth plays an important role. This means that when there is a lot of snow on the ground, the temperature will probably stay anomalously cold from January to February. Or if there is thin snow or no snow at all, the temperature will be anomalously warm in both months. The specific role of snow was examined in a follow-up study. In summer, soil variables dominate completely.

Our long-term goal is to assign a higher weight to the models that represent these physical mechanisms well while assigning a lower weight to less realistic models. To be able to plough through the huge data amounts available from models, observations and satellite imagery, we need to let computers do the heavy lifting. Another important reason not to do this manually is that humans are prone to making mistakes, often in the form of being too subjective. Machines, for better or worse, do not have this bias, which we believe makes them ideally suited for this work.

Stay tuned for our July forecast and other developments!

SFI proposal submitted

Yesterday, we submitted an outline for a proposal for a new Centre for Research-based Innovation. With 16 user partners and 6 research partners, this was the first step towards a full proposal to be submitted in September 2019. Here’s the summary:

Climate Futures will create usable and reliable climate forecasts that do not exist today. Short-range weather forecasts are already invaluable tools for planning ahead, but there is a clear need for climate information beyond the next 10 days and up to decades into the future – the subseasonal-to-decadal (‘S2D’ hereafter) time horizon. For instance, hydropower companies make crucial decisions based on assumptions about future rainfall, snow accumulation and heating demand. Insurance companies would save large sums if they could prepare for cold spells, floods, tropical cyclones and droughts. Farmers need to know when the growing season starts, how much it will rain and how warm or cold it will be, and when to harvest.

Climate risks are manifold and escalating, but there is a critical shortage of tools for managing them. We will capitalize on recent scientific advances in climate prediction and artificial intelligence (AI) and develop new products to radically expand the use of S2D forecasts in Norway. The products must be easy to use, relevant, dependable and scalable. This requires cooperation across disciplines and sectors and innovation on a grand scale, which our consortium is uniquely positioned to accomplish. By bringing together some of the largest energy and insurance companies in Norway, leading agricultural actors, a global provider of weather intelligence, public authorities, world-leading climate scientists and outstanding expertise in weather forecasting, economics, statistics, AI and co-production, we will make climate forecasts available for everyone, to benefit companies, individuals, organizations and policy-makers.