EU Science Hub

Using EC-Earth for climate prediction research

Climate prediction at the subseasonal to interannual time range is now performed routinely and operationally by an increasing number of institutions. The feasibility of climate prediction largely depends on the existence of slow and predictable variations in the ocean surface temperature, sea ice, soil moisture and snow cover, and on our ability to model the atmosphere’s interactions with those variables. Climate prediction is typically performed with statisticalempirical or process-based models. The two methods are complementary. Although forecasting systems using global climate models (GCMs) have made substantial progress in the last few decades (Doblas-Reyes et al., 2013), systematic errors and misrepresentations of key processes still limit the value of dynamical prediction in certain areas of the globe. At the same time, model initialisation, ensemble generation, understanding the processes at the origin of predictability, forecasting extremes, bias adjustment and model evaluation are all challenging aspects of the climate prediction problem. Addressing them requires both a large base of researchers with expertise in physics, mathematics, statistics, high-performance computing and data analysis interested in climate prediction issues and a tool for them to work with. This article illustrates how one of these tools, the EC-Earth climate model (Box A), has been used to train scientists in climate prediction and to address scientific challenges in this field. The use of model components from ECMWF’s Integrated Forecasting System (IFS) in EC-Earth means that some of the results obtained with EC-Earth can feed back into ECMWF’s activities. EC-Earth has been run extensively on ECMWF’s high performance computing facility (HPCF), among a range of HPCFs across Europe and North America. The availability of ECMWF’s HPCF to EC-Earth partners, including the use of the successful ECMWF Special Project programme, means that a substantial amount of EC-Earth’s collaborative work, both within the consortium and with ECMWF, takes place on this platform.