OVERALL EVALUATION OF THE STATE OF RegClim - Phase I

by the project leader Trond Iversen

At the outset of the RegClim project the Programme Board expressed a clear wish that new research on climate change in Norway should have a regional aim, be founded on already existing competence, and should be a co-ordinated effort between institutions with the relevant competence. The present RegClim-project has in its first phase that started in autumn 1997 without doubt satisfied these criteria.

Scientific and practical results are now being produced in all principal tasks (PT) in the project, both under the overall aim I (regionalization of global scenarios) and under overall aim II (regional scale forcing and processes). This situation has mainly developed during the last year after about one year used to solve considerable logistics problems.

Running climate simulations with up-to-date models not only requires fast computers, but also huge storage requirements, availability of observation data for model validation, and data from global scenario runs from climate centres. The project leader group put much emphasis on establishing good relations to other programmes in the Nordic countries and, in particular, the Max-Planck-Institute climate centre in Hamburg. Letters of intent have been signed with these partners. We have also investigated the possibility to establish similar links to the UKMO Hadley Centre for climate prediction and research. These contacts ensured that RegClim quickly could retrieve necessary data from climate simulations and for the best estimate of today’s climate (from ECMWF, ERA-database). In the near future it is planned to co-ordinate scenario runs for downscaling with the Nordic sister projects in Sweden and Denmark.

Another initial challenge for RegClim was the data storage capacity needed. This was partly solved by extraordinary funds from RC, and partly by an own contribution from DNMI (a tape robot). The latter took some more time than anticipated since due to technical and security problems.

The project leader group has also put much emphasis on information to the public from the project. On several occasions in newspapers and television and radio broadcasting, RegClim scientists have participated. We have also established a Newsletter in the bi-monthly popular paper CICERONE, which is published by Cicero, which is a university centre at University of Oslo.

Results are now being produced continuously, less than two years after the project started. The reason for this success is of course that there has long been a well qualified scientific community at Norwegian institutions. Norway was among the pioneer nations when atmospheric numerical models came into use in the 1950s, and education in meteorology, and to an increasing extent in oceanography, has for decades been based on numerical calculations and models. Furthermore, before the RegClim-project started, there were already some activities going on at different institutions now participating in RegClim. Thus, when the Norwegian authorities decided to start a co-ordinated effort in climate modelling in Norway, the time was actually more than ripe. It was also important for a quick start that institutions were allowed to build on the competence and experience gained with model tools.

Following this overall evaluation there is a long list of publication from RegClim. Only a few, but still a considerable part, of these are published in peer-review journals. The project leaders now put emphasis on a regular publication of results from the project, in reports as well as in presentations in symposia and in scientific journals. RegClim will publish a General Technical Report twice per year containing the latest news from the PTs along with contributions from invited speakers to our annual workshop in spring. In addition, separate technical reports are being produced and submission of manuscripts to journals is encouraged.

Details about results from RegClim up to now is well documented in the enclosed General Technical Report No. 1 from Dec. 1998, and the draft of General Technical Report No. 2 of June 1999. The reader can there see that the project has at least reached as far as in the original plans. This can also be verified by reading comments by the Principal Investigators (PI) under each task of their PTs in chapter 5 of the present project description. I do not find it necessary to repeat this in this overview of the situation, more than confirming the RegClim now is in an extremely busy result-producing phase. The main challenge now and in the immediate future is to be sure to use sufficient time and resources on result evaluation and publication.

It should also be mentioned that new scientific and technical problems pop up as one proceed in the work. This may occasionally lead to delays compared to original plans, but so far these have not been serious.

RegClim has submitted results as described in papers and reports to relevant chapters of the upcoming IPCC Third Assessment Report. It will, however, be a decision by the lead authors and the reviewers to what extent these contributions will be used. Two of the lead authors are participating in RegClim: Professor Ivar Isaksen and Dr. Gunnar Myhre.

A nice surprise is that several of the models need less computer time than originally anticipated. In dynamical downscaling for example, this has the nice consequence that quite long (multidecadal) scenario-runs can be made as opposed to shorter time-slices under certain circulation regimes. Another consequence is that the dynamical downscaling can be made coupled to a slab ocean and sea-ice model, opening up for more realistic results in Norway. A full coupling between the global model, with grid focus on the Nordic Seas, and the three-dimensional ocean model is now also practically possible.

All-in-all, I am presently proud to be a project leader for such a success as RegClim seems to become. When presenting RegClim in talks, the problem is now which results to pick from, whereas for only 8-10 months ago I could only present plans.

 

Oslo June 15. 1999

Trond Iversen