Regional climate conference concluded with springboard toward the future

The theme for the global scientific conference ICRC CORDEX in 2016 was methods for describing climate from a regional perspective. More than 300 participants from 38 countries around the world discussed climate modelling, climate change, consequences and effects.

The common denominator is research based on one of the regional climate scenarios produced within CORDEX, for which SMHI is a major supplier of calculations. 

"We have seen examples of the consequences of climate change with bigger downpours, drought that is spreading and an increased risk of forest fires. Society needs to prepare for these risks and get equipped. We have also heard of some examples involving positive potential, including a South American study that shows how changes in wind conditions can provide better opportunities for producing wind power," says Erik Kjellström, head of SMHI climate research at the Rossby Centre.

Participants at the ICRC CORDEX 2016 conference
Participants at the ICRC CORDEX 2016 conference.

Future challenges

The conference concluded with a discussion of the scientific challenges which regional climate research is currently facing. In what way does regional downscaling bring added value to global climate models?

"At the moment it is difficult to work with climate adaptation based on data from global climate models because they present general values over wide areas. This is where regional downscaling is important for obtaining more detailed information so that society is able to prepare and adapt to changing local and regional conditions," says Iréne Lake, manager of the International Project Office for CORDEX at SMHI.

Two of the most obvious changes in future climate are more severe downpours and changes in local wind patterns. How will you researchers work in this area? 

"In terms of precipitation, we can see that there will be more heavy rain, which will result in major consequences for society.  Much of the focus at the conference was on the most high-resolution regional climate models with a few kilometres' resolution, which represent heavy rain and strong winds much better. We will continue to improve these tools, and we also need to obtain better observations of present conditions so that we can evaluate the models," says Grigory Nikulin, researcher at SMHI and member of the CORDEX scientific advisory team. 

Capacity building

CORDEX is not only about obtaining regional climate information; it also has specific objectives about the exchange of knowledge and communication with users of regional climate information.

"The fact that this conference brought together researchers from so many countries is a great success. It is especially pleasing to see that many researchers from developing countries have access to regional climate information through CORDEX. Now they can more easily take an active part in understanding climate change and its effects, and help with climate adaptation work in their own countries," says Iréne Lake.

Message from IPCC

Representatives from the UN climate panel, IPCC working groups one and two, also attended the conference. This gave a clear message that they want CORDEX to contribute to IPCC work in the future, both on special reports, such as the 1.5 degree temperature increase, and the next major evaluation report from the IPCC in 2022.

The ICRC CORDEX 2016 conference on regional climate modelling
More than 300 researchers from 38 countries around the world participated in the ICRC CORDEX 2016 conference on regional climate modelling.