Can scientists look at next year's climate?

Sep 12, 2011 By Stuart Wolpert
Can scientists look at next year's climate?
Michael Ghil

(PhysOrg.com) -- Is it possible to make valid climate predictions that go beyond weeks, months, even a year? UCLA atmospheric scientists report they have now made long-term climate forecasts that are among the best ever -- predicting climate up to 16 months in advance, nearly twice the length of time previously achieved by climate scientists.

Forecasts of climate are much more general than short-term ; they do not predict precise temperatures in specific cities, but they still may have major implications for agriculture, industry and the economy, said Michael Ghil, a distinguished professor of in the UCLA Department of Atmospheric and and senior author of the research.

The study is currently available online in the journal (PNAS) and will be published in an upcoming print edition of the journal.

"Certain climate features might be predictable, although not in such detail as the temperature and whether it will rain in Los Angeles on such a day two years from now," said Ghil, who is also a member of UCLA's Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics. "These are averages over larger areas and longer time spans."

Long-term could help predict El Niño events more than a year in advance. El Niño is a climate pattern characterized by the warming of equatorial surface waters, which dramatically disrupts weather patterns over much of the globe and strikes as often as every second year, as seldom as every seventh year or somewhere in between.

A major issue addressed by Ghil and his colleagues in the PNAS research is the difficulty of separating natural climate variability from human-induced climate change and how to take natural variability into account when making climate models.

For the study, Ghil and his UCLA colleagues Michael Chekroun and Dmitri Kondrashov of the department of atmospheric and oceanic sciences analyzed sea-surface temperatures globally. To improve their forecasts, they devised a new algorithm based on novel insights about the mathematics of how short-term weather interacts with long-term climate. Weather covers a period of days, while climate covers months and longer.

As is customary in this field, Ghil and his colleagues used five decades of climate data and test predictions retrospectively. For example, they used climate data from 1950 to 1970 to make "forecasts" for January 1971, February 1971 and beyond and see how accurate the predictions were. They reported achieving higher accuracy in their predictions 16 months out than other scientists achieved in half that time.

Extreme climate, extreme events
 
Ghil also led a separate, three-year European Commission–funded project called "Extreme Events: Causes and Consequences" involving 17 institutions in nine countries. In a recent paper on extreme events, published this summer in the journal Nonlinear Processes in , Ghil and colleagues addressed not only extreme weather and climate but extreme events such as earthquakes and other natural catastrophes, and even extreme economic events. Their study included an analysis of the macro-economic impact of extreme events.

"It turns out, surprisingly, that it is worse when catastrophes occur during an economic expansion, and better during a recession," Ghil said. "If your roof blows off in a hurricane, it's easier to get somebody to fix your roof when many people are out of work and wages are depressed. This finding is consistent with, and helps explain, reports of the World Bank on the impact of natural catastrophes."

Ghil spoke this past July about a mathematical theory of sensitivity at the International Congress on Industrial and Applied Mathematics, in Vancouver, a quadrennial event that showcases the most important contributions to the field over the preceding four years.

Explore further: NASA's infrared data shows newborn Tropical Storm Marie came together

More information: PNAS paper www.pnas.org/content/early/201… /1015753108.abstract

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User comments : 22

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gmurphy
5 / 5 (1) Sep 12, 2011
I found the observation that natural disasters had a positive impact on economic expansion during times of recession to be an insightful observation. Anything that forces money into the economy should have the same effect. My bet is that some new efficiency will appear in the economy which will free up cash and get the fragile economic sentiment onto firmer ground.
antialias_physorg
4 / 5 (4) Sep 12, 2011
I found the observation that natural disasters had a positive impact on economic expansion during times of recession to be an insightful observation.

I don't know where you got that from. All I can see here is the statement:
In times of crisis it's easier to fix damage from (natural) catastrophes because there is a larger unemployed labor pool and wages are consequently lower.
Au-Pu
4.5 / 5 (2) Sep 12, 2011
There has been three generations of long range forecasters operating in Australia since the 1940's.
In the late 40's they predicted the start and end of Australia's longest drought in the 80's.
They regularly predict weather 12 months in advance with an accuracy that is better than the weather bureau can do for 7 days in advance.
The weather bureau and government officialdom refuse to acknowledge them yet farmers pay for their forecasts each and every year, because they are reliable.
The basis is a series of interacting weather cycles and sunspot activity.
So this particular research is not groundbreaking, it is simply proving what a fellow named Inigo Jones discovered more than 70 years ago. He has since died and was replaced by his protegee Lennox Walker, who has also died and has been followed by his son.
They have an observatory in Croamhurst in Queensland.
Their forecasts are based upon southern hemisphere weather patterns.
Au-Pu
2.5 / 5 (2) Sep 12, 2011
Which means they cannot forecast northern hemisphere weather.
They would need to research northern hemisphere weather to establish its various cycles, then with sunspot observations they could start to forecast northern hemisphere weather.
Or if anyone wanted to learn from them they could take the knowledge back and do it all themselves
Vendicar_Decarian
0.5 / 5 (38) Sep 12, 2011
"Is it possible to make valid climate predictions that go beyond weeks, months, even a year?" - Article

That would be quite impossible since climate isn't defined over periods as short as weeks, months, or even a year.

Vendicar_Decarian
0.7 / 5 (39) Sep 12, 2011
"It turns out, surprisingly, that it is worse when catastrophes occur during an economic expansion, and better during a recession," Ghil said." - Article

This is hardly surprising at all. The money spent through the necessity of responding to a natural disaster acts as economic stimulus which improves the overall economy at the cost of lower savings during the subsequent expansion.

So natural disasters are short term stimulating but long term depressing.

This will also be true for unnatural disasters by the way, but isn't true of economic disasters of the kind that Borrow and Spend Republicans have foisted on America since stimulus in the form of borrowed money is used to prime the economy back to it's previous pre-Republican period of relative prosperity.

ubavontuba
2.2 / 5 (5) Sep 12, 2011
Is it possible to make valid climate predictions that go beyond weeks, months, even a year? UCLA atmospheric scientists report they have now made long-term climate forecasts that are among the best ever -- predicting climate up to 16 months in advance, nearly twice the length of time previously achieved by climate scientists.
And yet, climatologists regularly foist decades long, doom and gloom predictions to the media. How does that work?
ricarguy
1 / 5 (2) Sep 13, 2011
"...Borrow and Spend Republicans..."

Mr. Vendicar, it is nice to see that you DO have a sense of humor after all.
Vendicar_Decarian
0.2 / 5 (37) Sep 13, 2011
"How does that work?" - UbevonTard

It has been repeatedly explained to you. Clearly you are not capable of understanding the explanations.

Please take up a hobby more compatible with your abilities. Basket weaving and paper toll immediately come to mind.
Vendicar_Decarian
0.2 / 5 (35) Sep 13, 2011
"Mr. Vendicar, it is nice to see that you DO have a sense of humor after all." - RicarTard

I do... But it isn't going to save you from the results of the last 40 years of Borrow and Spend Republicanism.
emsquared
5 / 5 (1) Sep 13, 2011
"...Borrow and Spend Republicans..."

Mr. Vendicar, it is nice to see that you DO have a sense of humor after all.

http://en.wikiped...al_terms

ricarguy, take a good look at the table in the above link, paying special attention to the Increase in Debt as a function of GDP column. You'll notice a very salient trend starting with Nixon/Ford where conservatives have increased the debt as a percentage of GDP. To translate for you, they have consistently raised the debt more than they grew the economy. Every liberal (since Roosevelt, until Obama - who inherited striking similar situations...) has grew the economy more than the debt.

So, it's not that VD has a sense of humor, it's that you have no concept of the economic history of conservatives.
ubavontuba
1 / 5 (2) Sep 14, 2011
@Venditard Detardian:

"How does that work?" - UbevonTard

It has been repeatedly explained to you. Clearly you are not capable of understanding the explanations.

Please take up a hobby more compatible with your abilities. Basket weaving and paper toll immediately come to mind.
Wow, there's a non-explanation if ever I saw one.

Didn't you notice the article begs the question: "Is it possible to make valid climate predictions that go beyond weeks, months, even a year?" and answers it by suggesting the record is 16 months - and yet you claim it's possible to accurately predict the climate decades, or even centuries out?

Seriously?

Vendicar_Decarian
0.1 / 5 (35) Sep 14, 2011
@ubvon

It has been explained to you numerous times. You are either incapable of comprehending the answers or unwilling to accept them, and then asking for another explanation, over and over and over again.

You can't get more Tard than ConservaTard
GSwift7
1 / 5 (1) Sep 14, 2011
I found the observation that natural disasters had a positive impact on economic expansion during times of recession to be an insightful observation. Anything that forces money into the economy should have the same effect


There's a text-book economic principle in regard to this. I forget what they call it, but it's the 'something' paradox. On the surface, it would seem to stimulate the economy, but in reality it's just moving the money around. The construction industry gets a boost but the insurance industry takes a hit, for example. The construction boost is very short term, causing nothing more than a ripple in the overall picture. In the end, it's bad when things get destroyed. It's not a net gain when a window gets broken. The overall picture for the regional or national economy is a loss. They actually had an economics professor talking about this last week on NPR. More people lose jobs than gain in the long run. Businesses get destroyed and don't reopen. His words.
GSwift7
1 / 5 (1) Sep 14, 2011
Since I see that a couple people in the thread seem to think it is a boost to the economy when things get broken, I decided to try to find the paradox I was talking about.

It is actually called the Broken Window Fallacy or the Parable of the broken window.

Here's the wiki on it:

http://en.wikiped...n_window

As you can see, this is quite old and well-known, and is generally accepted. The problem is that the money that was spent to repair the window would have been spent on something else, if the window didn't need to be repaired. Perhaps that would have been a new widget-making-machine that allowed the construction worker who installed the window to get a new job making widgets in stead.
GSwift7
1 / 5 (1) Sep 14, 2011
As the wiki suggests, if a natural disaster is a benefit, then so are man-made disasters, such as war. They are parallel arguments. It seems to make sense to me.

That's a bit off topic though. In regard to the article above: I cringe at the use of the oxymoron "short term climate". You can probably credit that term to a journalist or editor, rather than a climate scientist. What they are really talking about is regional weather trends. We are certainly getting better at predicting medium range regional weather patterns. Our accuracy at predicting shifts in ENSO and other regional weather factors is getting better. Most of the major agencies predicted the currently building La Nina way back in the Spring, though a couple of agencies, such as Jim Hansen's GISS, predicted El Nino. I haven't seen anyone give a prediction for next Summer yet though.
GSwift7
2 / 5 (4) Sep 15, 2011
You can't get more Tard than ConservaTard


If you knew anybody with a Down Syndrome child you wouldn't use that term the way you do all the time. I wish you would stop using that term.
emsquared
3 / 5 (2) Sep 16, 2011
If you knew anybody with a Down Syndrome child you wouldn't use that term the way you do all the time. I wish you would stop using that term.

I would second the above sentiment. It is the singular reason I down-rank just about anything you post VD. It's not necessary, it doesn't help you in seeming rational in your arguments. It just makes you seem like an ignorant dick.
GSwift7
1 / 5 (2) Sep 16, 2011
i would give you 5/5 twice if i had multiple accounts
Vendicar_Decarian
0.1 / 5 (36) Sep 16, 2011
"If you knew anybody with a Down Syndrome child you wouldn't use that term the way you do all the time." - GSwift

I have a lot more respect for Downs syndrome children than I do for RepubliTards.

One is willfully ignorant. The other is not.

Tards have often told me that identifying a liar as a liar is an impolite personal attack.

Awwww. The liars don't wan't to be called "liars".

And the Tards don't want to be called "Tards".

Too bad.

GSwift7
3 / 5 (4) Sep 18, 2011
to VD:

Just to be clear, this isn't about whether you are right or wrong.

I would not want you on my side either way.

Your frequent use of adhom attack and vulgarities only detracts from any point you might have. I take pride in the fact that you don't agree with me, and when you downrate my comments I see that as a bonus.

That's way off topic though. You still haven't made any good points in regard to the topic at hand and you never provide references. Keep it up loser.
GSwift7
1 / 5 (2) Sep 18, 2011
You still haven't made any good points in regard to the topic at hand


I take that back. Your first post was good, and I gave you 5/5 for it. Your second post was good too, but it's a common misconception about this topic. I didn't rate that comment because I didn't think it was fair to downrate you for believing what many other people also believe. I did, however, provide references to a more comprehensive view of the subject.

My issue with you is completely based on your vulgar attacks, even when you are on my side of an issue. Especially when you are on my side, do I find it offensive. I'd rather you stayed on the opposing view.