Understanding the processes governing climate variability and change, climate predictability and the probability of extreme events
Dong, B., Dufresne, J.-L., Gualdi, S., Friedlingstein, P., Keenlyside, N., Maheras, P., Salas, D., Sutton, R. T. and Terray, L. (2009) Understanding the processes governing climate variability and change, climate predictability and the probability of extreme events. In: Summary of research and results from the ENSEMBLES project. Met Office Hadley Centre, Met Office Hadley Centre, FitzRoy Road, Exeter EX1 3PB, UK, pp. 79-93.
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The purpose of Research Theme 4 (RT4) was to advance understanding of the basic science issues at the heart of the ENSEMBLES project, focusing on the key processes that govern climate variability and change, and that determine the predictability of climate. Particular attention was given to understanding linear and non-linear feedbacks that may lead to climate surprises,and to understanding the factors that govern the probability of extreme events. Improved understanding of these issues will contribute significantly to the quantification and reduction of uncertainty in seasonal to decadal predictions and projections of climate change. RT4 exploited the ENSEMBLES integrations (stream 1) performed in RT2A as well as undertaking its own experimentation to explore key processes within the climate system. It was working at the cutting edge of problems related to climate feedbacks, the interaction between climate variability and climate change especially how climate change pertains to extreme events, and the predictability of the climate system on a range of time-scales. The statisticalmethodologies developed for extreme event analysis are new and state-of-the-art. The RT4-coordinated experiments, which have been conducted with six different atmospheric GCMs forced by common timeinvariant sea surface temperature (SST) and sea-ice fields (removing some sources of inter-model variability), are designed to help to understand model uncertainty (rather than scenario or initial condition uncertainty) in predictions of the response to greenhouse-gas-induced warming. RT4 links strongly with RT5 on the evaluation of the ENSEMBLES prediction system and feeds back its results to RT1 to guide improvements in the Earth system models and, through its research on predictability, to steer the development of methods for initialising the ensembles
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