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extreme rains in south east norway, 2015. what to expect in the future, scientists ask in a new project. photo: birgit forstervold @ flickr.com

extreme rains in south east norway, 2015. what to expect in the future, scientists ask in a new project. photo: birgit forstervold @ flickr.com

Making sense of future climate

Climate news - News and opinions about climate science

Published 19.01.2017

Did you believe only science fiction deal with futuretypes? Well, think again. A bunch of real scientists is carving out possible futuristic climate scenarios right now, and if you live in Norway, they might be zooming in on your hometown.

A new project “Translating weather extremes into the future – a case for Norway” (TWEX) has just been launched at CICERO. In this project, we take a novel approach in which we use future scenarios tailored to a specific region and stakeholder in order to gain a more realistic picture of what future weather extremes might look like in a particular context.

A flooded parking lot in Tønsberg, Norway, 2011. We should expect more weather events such as these, TWEX experts say. Photo: Bernt Rostad @ flickr.com

We carefully select case studies of high-impact events together with the stakeholders, to undertake a holistic analysis of the events (physical hazard, vulnerability, and barriers to adaptation). The aim of the project is then to translate the selected past events into the future (e.g., 2090) in an approach very similar to the ones we use today for weather prediction.

We use future scenarios tailored to a specific region and stakeholder in order to gain a more realistic picture of what future weather extremes might look like.

jana sillmann

Our aim is to distribute the data in standard weather prediction communication-channels of the Norwegian Meteorological Institute, and will thus be easily accessible by end-users for analyzing the impact of the events in the future.

This, in turn, will provide a valuable basis to explore, in a Norwegian context, whether the novel scenario approach “Tales of future weather” we apply in the TWEX-project offers extra value to current practice and knowledge of stakeholders.

Guided by some key questions posed by the organizers in a kick-off workshop at CICERO’s new premises on November 30th and December 1st, 2016, we concluded on these main findings:
 

Stakeholders confirmed that weather events had a high impact to their operations

The stakeholders confirmed their interest in extreme events associated with a particular circulation pattern (so-called “Atmospheric River”) leading to heavy rainfall in fall and winter along the West Coast of Norway.

One example of such an event is the October flood in 2014, which led to severe impacts in the municipalities Odda, Voss, Aurland and Lærdal.

Other events mentioned were the recent “Atmospheric River” related event that reached Svalbard with anomalous high rainfall in September and October 2016 causing landslides; and summer events associated with a so-called “Vb - weather pattern”, such as in Gudbrandsdalen and Østerdalen in 2011.

A few heavy storm events were pointed out, such as the New Years’ Storm in 1992, “Dagmar” Christmas 2011 and “Tor” in 2016, all three causing significant damage.
 

Stakeholders well informed about the weather

Stakeholders were asked for their main sources of information for current extreme weather events and future climate change.

Only a few of the stakeholders (e.g., the Norwegian Energy Directorate, NVE, and Statkraft) use direct weather forecasts from Met Norway for their daily operations. Most stakeholders rely on the warnings issued by Met Norway (weather warnings and severe weather warnings, communicated through yr.no which is jointly owned by national broadcaster, NRK, and Met Norway) and NVE (varsom.no).

For future climate projections, a very well used source are the climate reports issued by NVE and the Norwegian Climate Service Centre, such as “Klima i Norge 2100” and the “Klimaprofil” generated for individual counties.

The Directorate for Civil Protection, DSB, is further issuing recommendations and guidelines for climate change adaptation and public security in the "Klimahjelperen" and "Havnivåstigning og stormflo", which are used by municipalities and are based on the before mentioned climate reports.
 

Wishes: Better forecasts and more concrete numbers

When asked for their needs of information to support their planning and decision-making for future extreme weather events, some stakeholders would like to have a better long-term weather forecast (5-10 days ahead) of, for instance, flood and storm events. This would require improving our understanding of the predictability of the circulation patters (such as “Atmospheric Rivers”) and their pathways associated with extreme flood events in Norway.

Other stakeholders want more concrete numbers of future changes in extreme events (e.g., maximum precipitation amount, flood height, return values) than is accessible today. Associated uncertainties relevant for planning purposes is also on the wish list.

Particularly yr.no pointed out that results from TWEX using the “Tales of future weather approach” could be an opportunity for communicating climate change in a different way and influencing their storytelling.

We believe TWEX can provide useful input to all of this.

The workshop was organized by CICERO, Met Norway, and, finally Statkraft, one of the main stakeholders contributing in-kind to the project. A total of nine different stakeholders from the public and private sector learned about and discussed the TWEX approach and its relevance for their applications in an interactive conversation.

In the course of the three-year TWEX project, we will follow up on this with the stakeholders that participated in the workshop, but are also keen on involving other stakeholders interested in the approach and results.

For more information and recent updates on the project, please visit the TWEX website or contact the project leader (jana.sillmann@ciciero.oslo.no).