Challenges and opportunities for improved understanding of regional climate dynamics


Dynamical processes in the atmosphere and ocean are central to determining the large-scale drivers of regional climate change, yet their predictive understanding is poor. Here, we identify three frontline challenges in climate dynamics where significant progress can be made to inform adaptation: response of storms, blocks and jet streams to external forcing; basin-to-basin and tropical–extratropical teleconnections; and the development of non-linear predictive theory. We highlight opportunities and techniques for making immediate progress in these areas, which critically involve the development of high-resolution coupled model simulations, partial coupling or pacemaker experiments, as well as the development and use of dynamical metrics and exploitation of hierarchies of models.

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Fig. 1: Sea surface temperature trends from observations for the period 1979–2012 indicating the concept of inter-ocean-basin teleconnections.
Fig. 2: The influence of sharp SST gradients in the Gulf Stream on the hydrological cycle of individual storms and their rectification on the mean climate state.
Fig. 3: Schematic indicating the concept of the ‘hierarchies of models’.


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We acknowledge the support of CLIVAR in setting up the Climate Dynamics Panel and their travel support for hosting panel meetings. M.C. and S.M. conceived the paper and also co-chair the CLIVAR Climate Dynamics Panel. All other authors contributed to the writing. C.O.R. produced Fig. 2 and M.C. acknowledges support from NERC NE/N018486/1. N.K. acknowledges support from the ERC (grant 648982).

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Collins, M., Minobe, S., Barreiro, M. et al. Challenges and opportunities for improved understanding of regional climate dynamics. Nature Clim Change 8, 101–108 (2018).

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