Recently, the thirteenth session of the Forum on Regional Climate Monitoring, Assessment and Prediction for Asia (FOCRAII) was held in Beijing. Experts from over 20 countries conducted in-depth discussions encompassing technology and management of climate services, impact and physical mechanism of key external factors for climate anomalies, overview of recent climate and climate change anomaly characteristics, seasonal climate prediction of the summer 2017 over East Asia area and so on. During the forum, Dr. Richard Graham, senior expert from Met Office and Dr. Zhang Peiqun, Deputy Chief Engineer from Beijing Climate Centre accepted the interview of China Meteorological News Press regarding China-UK collaboration in climate research and related fields.

Guest: Dr. Richard Graham, leads the Monthly to Decadal Applications group, Met Office Hadley Centre

     Dr. Zhang Peiqun, Deputy Chief Engineer of Beijing Climate Center, CMA

Host: Zhang Yong, Liu Shuqiao and Chen Meiqi from China Meteorological News Press

Joint Media: China Meteorological Administration Web, Xinhuanet

Chinese Version Link:

http://www.cma.gov.cn/2011wmhd/2011wzbft/2011wftzb/20170504

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  Climate services of Met Office cover numerous sectors

Met Office is UK’s largest weather and climate provider, not only providing climate services in UK, but also for countries across the globe. One key hallmark of the way we do things is that we have the same modeling system for forecasting short range, medium range, monthly, seasonal, and even the climate range. Met Office launches intensive cooperation and provide services cover areas right across the spectrum such as defense, aviation, water sector, energy, commercial marketing, and so on. In recent years, we improved climate model forecast capability, especially achieved positive progress in winter climate forecast via ameliorating descriptive power and mechanism research of climate model.

  FOCRAII is a good platform

FOCRAII is a good platform. In each forum, scientists from different countries conducted in-depth analysis and discussions in climate and related issues. The essence of these forums not only lies in studies into climate modeling, but also the exchange of information. There are countries which don’t have the modeling capacity. However, by holding these forums, the information can be distributed and used among countries in the wider Asia region. As for CSSP programme, it has been very successful and fruitful. Both China and UK can improve global systems and enhance research and operation capabilities through this collaboration.

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  CSSP programme is fruitful

CSSP is a very fruitful program as it not only produces scientific and technological fruits but also transforms science into services. Through CSSP programme, we have a better understanding of some extreme events, attribution, some global dynamics and East Asian region climate variability as well as climate modeling. Meanwhile, some of these scientific and technical improvements have been applied in climate services. In the future, I hope the collaboration between China and the UK can cover more areas so as to provide solide scientific and technological supports for climate adapatation.

During the interview (Photoed by Wu Peng)

Q: Met Office is a leading global institution in climate field. Can you brief us on the latest progress made by Met Office in climate services?

Richard Graham: Met Office is UK’s largest weather and climate provider, not only providing climate services in UK, but also for countries across the globe, as a part of Global Framework of Climate Services (GFCS). And our climate services in the Met Office have scored exciting achievements in recent years and we really look forward to further progress, especially in terms of winter climate forecast in UK. Actually, winter climate forecast was rather difficult in the past. It is very hard to predict. So scientists here in Met Office have managed to work out some of key factors in wintertime and made relevant forecasts, not only in UK but also parts of North America and even going across North Asia.

The winter climate is very much controlled by the oscillation in surface pressure, which is called the North Atlantic Oscillation. In certain phases, it will bring cold weather. And the opposite thing is that it will generally bring warm weather across the UK and other parts of Europe and northern Asia. Now we have developed models and have a good skill of predicting it.

And now we have got the opportunity in this November, to give advice to infrastructure organizations, like transport and energy about how to best prepare for the upcoming winter. Gas and electricity demand is very correlated or anti-correlated with temperature so we can help them to predict these kinds of demands. And disruption to transportation, long delays in airport, ice, snows, or roads that need to be cleared off, all these things are of high importance to the smooth operation of daily life. Now we are getting to the point that we can give very good advice on the prospect of disruption or when weather disruptions occur.

Those are probably the most exciting things that are going on in climate services in UK. But we do provide a range of services not just one season ahead, but also short range ones, and looking out to the next five years, and also climate change timescale as well. We now have strong collaboration with users across UK in different sectors, particularly energy and water areas and figure out how climate change really affects those areas.

Q: You mentioned the short range forecast, can you briefly introduce its development?

Richard Graham: Here in Met Office, we have what we called seamless weather forecast and it goes from the current weather to just a few hours ahead. We issue public warnings against potentially dangerous weather, for instance, which causes damage to buildings. That is part of our services. Our services cover areas right across the spectrum such as defense, aviation, water sector, energy, commercial marketing, and so on.

China and UK signed work protocol on climate change risk assessment

Q: Climate services rely on climate prediction. You mentioned that your institution has made headway in winter climate forecast. How can we improve this kind of forecast or what happened in Met Office in the past few years?

Richard Graham: Met Office is one of the modeling centres in the world. Actually, we have a continuing process of improving our modeling. It is not easy to describe the concrete process. But we can interpret it from two directions. The first one is the bottom-up development of the model. The model is about representing processes going on in the climate, like in oceans, atmosphere, the land, and the interaction between them. They are complex systems. We have to represent those processes as many as we can. We can improve those processes through our computer models.

So, the first one is about improving the physical representation. The second one is the top-down approach that is looking specifically at the behaviors.

For example, in some parts of the world, we did not see the summer climate clearly through the model. So we can look slowly at different mechanisms, for all the reasons behind that. So you try to diagnose the reasons for particular performance in a particular part of the world. Then to understand what that is, and see what is wrong, and then target the particular problem causing the error that you see.

These two approaches help to bring the modeling forward. There is one important step, which is modeling evaluation. Looking at your models regularly and comparing them with observations to see how well they are performing, and then make corresponding changes and further develop those models. A host of scientists are working on these things.

One key hallmark of the way we do things is that we have the same modeling system for forecasting short range, medium range, monthly, seasonal, and even the climate range. By having the same model, the model improves at the short range scale will automatically benefit forecasts of other ranges. So having this unified modeling system is a real benefit for us here in Met Office. The unified modeling pattern has been operated for at least 25 years. It is becoming more unified as time elapses.

Q: Professor Zhang, can you give some comments on modeling enhancement just mentioned by Dr. Richard?

Zhang Peiqun: This is a really successful approach. Just as Dr. Richard said, weather is a complicated process encompassing numerous components such as atmosphere, ice, and ocean, etc. If all these components are combined together, maybe big phenomena could be caught up, for example AO or some other large scale phenomena.

From my perspective, unified modeling method is a good approach, which puts all these factors together. They can make improvements at all the timescales, for the weather and climate scale at the same time. Now we have a new concept called weather and climate linkage, which is of vital significance. Modeling improvement is conducive to better understand this linkage.

Q: Is Hadley Centre the first institution to apply the unified modeling?

Richard Graham: There may be some other centres that apply it over some timescales, maybe over monthly and seasonal timescales. But Hadley Centre is concerned with forecasting at all timescales.

Zhang Peiqun: The idea of unified modeling is accepted by many institutes in the world for the model development. And now in CMA, we try to reinforce cooperation with Met Office in terms of model development under the guidance of this method. Now we do not have a unified model but we try to use this idea to guide our modeling from both the weather and climate view. I think it is very important.

The Ninth Session of the Joint Working Group (JWG-9) on China-UK Atmospheric Scientific Collaboration was convened in June, 2016 

Q: CMA and Met Office enjoy a long partnership in meteorological field. And FOCRAII is also a platform to conduct exchanges in terms of climate forecast and services. How do you comment on our cooperation and this platform? Do you think it helps to solidify our capacity building?

Richard Graham: Yes, this forum was initiated in 2005. It is critical for CMA to become a Regional Climate Centre under the framework of World Meteorological Organization (WMO), an important component of Climate Services Information System. There is always a lot of very fruitful discussion between the climate scientists. In each forum, scientists from different countries have conducted in-depth discussions. They not only come from Met Office but also from countries like the USA, Tokyo, and People’s Republic of Korea who are engaged in climate modeling. But the essence of these forums not only lies in studies into climate modeling, but also the exchange of information. That is why this forum is highly acclaimed and advocated by WMO.

There are countries which don’t have the modeling capacity. By holding regional forums, the information can be distributed and used among countries in the wider Asia region. We have representatives from most of these countries here and they gather information about the upcoming season and also look at different ways that are different countries’ approach and interact with user communities as well. And so it’s a very conducive method to enhance the usefulness of the science and bring science out of the scientific research and put it into practical use. So this forum actually helps people to be more resilient in the event of climate hazards.

On October 13, 2014, the first science meeting of the Climate Science for Service Partnership (CSSP) China has opened in Beijing

Q: Embarked in 2014, the Climate Science for Service Partnership (CSSP) between Met Office and CMA has promoted the research and application capabilities of both sides in climate science. Could you please make some comments on CSSP?

Richard Graham: As a part of research innovation program, the CSSP has been in practice since 2014. I think it has been very successful and fruitful. Some of the key objectives of this program are to strengthen collaboration between UK and China scientists and have some strategic plans about how to develop some collaborative research programs going forward and transform science into services for users. So some of the things happened have really reinforced collaboration between UK scientists and Chinese scientists. We have set up a series of workshops now once a year since 2014.

In 2015, for example, in Nanjing, there were 150 scientists with about 50 from the UK. It served as a great platform to exchange ideas. Both sides also have conducted some exchange programs. So Met Office scientists come to China to work together with Chinese scientists in CMA and other institutions for long periods. They exchange ideas about developing sciences, look at different models and compare results, etc. This is now leading to quite a few scientific papers appearing in journals.

It’s a good example of collaboration that we’re now using the Met Office model which is discovered through this work to have some skills in predicting rainfall in the Yangtze River basin area. The prediction helps the operation of Three Gorges Corporation.

Zhang Peiqun: CSSP lasts more than 3 years and it’s a very fruitful program, producing scientific and technological fruits and transforming science into services.

We have a better understanding of some extreme events, attribution, some global dynamics and East Asian region climate variability as well as climate modeling. Some of these scientific and technical improvements have been applied in climate services. For example, we provide some forecasts to very important users like Water Management Department of China and key users such as Three Gorges Corporation and other energy sector users.

I think another achievement is to build a strong partnership between UK and China scientists. We have very close cooperation with visitors from UK. That’s the foundation for the success of this program. It will exert long-term influence. The program may be finished in one or two years, but the friendship and cooperation between the UK and China will persist. That’s very important for both of us.

Q: As climate services are in great need in the future, what measures will BCC take to enhance capability in this aspect?

Zhang Peiqun: It’s really a big question. We have a large room for improvement. For example, from the technical view, the monitoring, diagnosis, and forecasting methods should be further enhanced. Nevertheless, communication should be strengthened between us and users at the same time. We are familiar with our field and our techniques, but users can’t understand the knowledge behind forecast and climate. So we should emphasize the interaction between meteorological institutions and users. FOCARII is just such a platform for this end. In the future, maybe we should pay more attention to users.

Q: Do you have some suggestions on the cooperation between CMA and Met Office in climate field?

Richard Graham: We should make full use of CSSP program to strengthen our collaboration. Once you do those things, both sides will profit more from this initiative. We live in parts of the world with different climates and very different drivers to climates; we are both very interested in developing models. We probably focus on our areas, the assessment of models, but the climate is an integrated global system. So we can learn from what you discover here about what is important for climate processes in this part of world. And likewise, colleagues in CMA can benefit more and have learned about other parts in the world. Eventually, we can both improve our global systems through this collaboration. So I’m sure the collaboration will be sustained.

Zhang Peiqun: I hope the collaboration between China and the UK can cover more areas, not only in climate monitoring and prediction, but also in services and climate change domain.

Editor: Chen Meiqi