Climate in 2014

Updated on Aug 28, 2007 04:12 AM IST

Britain-based climatologist Doug Smith talks to Satyen Mohapatra.

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HT Image
Hindustan Times | BySatyen Mohapatra

How will climate change during the coming decade?

Our new climate model prediction system (DePreSys) predicted that global average temperatures will not change significantly for the first few years after 2005, but thereafter temperature will continue to warm. The year 2014 is predicted to be about 0.3 degrees C warmer than 2004, and at least half the years following 2009 are predicted to be warmer than the warmest year currently on record. 1998 is the current warmest year on record.

How did you develop the new prediction system?

Many planners and businesses need to know how climate will change in the coming decade. This will also depend on the natural internal variability of the climate system, driven by, for example, El Nino and changes in ocean heat content. Previous climate model projections only accounted for external forcing, notably from man-made greenhouse gases, previous volcanic eruptions and projected changes in solar output. The Met Office Hadley Centre has developed the first climate model prediction system that predicts internal variability and externally forced changes.

Who will the technology benefit?

Our improved forecasts are likely to help businesses in energy, insurance, agriculture, to adapt to a changing climate. The model is also potentially capable of providing forecasts of drought, river flow, crop yield and extreme events, but this forecast skill has not yet been assessed.

Any drawbacks?

Future major volcanic eruptions will cool the climate, compared to our prediction. This is an unavoidable problem for all climate prediction systems (unless volcanic eruptions can be predicted). Our system only accounts for uncertainties in the observed state of the ocean and atmosphere, and does not account for uncertainties in the model. We plan to improve this.

Can you predict climate change at regional levels?

Our system provides information on scales of a few hundred kilometres, but finer detail could potentially be provided using regional climate models or statistical downscaling techniques.

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