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ENSEMBLE- based predictions of Climate Change and their Impacts

Period: September 2004 till August 2009
Status: Completed

Thesaurus terms: Climate change; Impact; Models

Institutes (7)  Top 
  • KU Leuven (KULeuven), more, sponsor
  • MET Office, more, sponsor
  • Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center (NERSC), more, partner
  • University of Berne, more, partner
  • Institute for the Protection and Security of the Citizen (IPSC), more
  • European Commission Joint Research Center (JRC), more
  • Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL), more, partner

Prediction of both natural climate variability and human impact on climate is inherently probabilistic, due to uncertainties in forecast initial conditions, representation of key processes within models, and climatic forcing factors. Hence, reliable estimates of climatic risk can only be made through ensemble integrations of Earth - System Models in which these uncertainties are explicitly incorporated. For the first time ever, a common ensemble forecast system will be developed for use across a range of timescales (seasonal, decadal, and longer) and spatial scales (global, regional, and local). This model system will be used to construct integrated scenarios of future climate change, including both non-intervention and stabilisation scenarios. This will provide a basis for quantitative risk assessment of climate change and climate variability, with emphasis on changes in extremes, including changes in storminess and precipitation, and the severity and frequency of drought, and the effects of "surprises", such as the shutdown of the thermohaline circulation. Most importantly, the model system will be extensively validated. Hind casts made by the model system for the 20th century will be compared against quality-controlled, high-resolution girded datasets for Europe. Probability forecasts made with the model system on the seasonal and decadal timescales will also be validated against existing data. The exploitation of the results will be maximised by linking the outputs of the ensemble prediction system to a wide range of applications. In turn, feedbacks from these impact areas back to the climate system will also be addressed. Thus ENSEMBLES will have a structuring effect on European research by bringing together an unprecedented spectrum of world-leading expertise. This expertise will be mobilised to maintain and extend European pre-eminence in the provision of policy-relevant information on climate and climate change and its interactions with society.

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