Producing more geographically detailed climate scenarios was highlighted as an important area in the latest Assessment Report from the IPCC.
Experience has shown that regional scenarios are needed to study the effects of the future climate. The global projections previously assessed by the IPCC have not always been sufficiently high resolution to be effective.
Focus on Africa's climate
A step in the run-up to the next IPCC report is now being taken, with an initial focus on the future climate in Africa. SMHI is one of the parties that will be co-ordinating the systematic downscaling of regional climate projections.
The aim is to progressively obtain results that will enable brand new levels of analysis into climate changes and the consequences they could entail.
Participating organisations around the world will use their own regional projection models to produce climate scenarios for common areas, so as to obtain a wide body of climate development data.
The results must be accessible
"Some of the challenges include setting international standards for the projections, co-ordinating projection data, such as which emission scenarios to use. We must also resolve the problem of making the results accessible." says Colin Jones, climate research scientist at SMHI.
There is already a great deal of experience from similar projects. Climate research in Europe has come a relatively long way in downscaling regional climate modelling, partly in the EU Ensembles project.
The new international Task Force on Regional Climate Downscaling is part of the UN World Climate Research Programme.