Climate scientists are expanding their research focus from large climate simulations of global weather patterns to integrating more detailed, regional weather models. Data science techniques allow a bottom up approach which analyses multiple climate models simultaneously. This approach improves both the accuracy of the global model predictions and the ability for climate scientists to model localised impacts of climate change on communities.
Understanding the diverse ways in which our climate may change over time at a regional or local level is critical for a broad range of applications including city design, crop yields and natural disaster planning. The accuracy of climate forecasting will support governments and industry avoid costly insurance claims and help ensure infrastructure investments that will withstand an increasingly extreme climate.
Identifying vulnerable ecosystems and taking measures to protect them is another benefit of forecasting regional climatic impacts. Tropical forest ecosystems are particularly vulnerable and researchers are already monitoring the impact in West Africa of a drying environment over many decades.
Researchers develop simulations to understand how warm environments that already face major variations in their climate from hot summer days to chilly winters, may be impacted by climate change in a different way to environments like the tropics where the weather is relatively consistent throughout the year.
Ocean currents and the marine ecosystems that thrive in them are also affected more intensively by climate change in particular locations that tend to shift over time in complex patterns, making research challenging for oceanographers to capture data and develop forecasts. The University of Bergen is sending their students on an expedition with their researchers to learn and share their knowledge with partner universities throughout their voyage. In August 2021 the Norwegian tall ship Statsraad Lehmkuhl set sail for The One Ocean Expedition, a circumnavigation of the globe. For nineteen months, Statsraad Lehmkuhl will sail 55 000 nautical miles and visit 36 ports worldwide as a part of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.
Fog Over the Indo-Gangetic plains of India (FOGGI) project
University of Leeds
Fog is a major weather hazard for northwestern India which has about 48 days per year of severe fog during the December-February time-period. Compared to other areas of the world, fog events observed over the northern region of India form rapidly, are largest in coverage area and longest in duration. Poor visibility currently costs the Indian airline industry an estimated US$1.6m per year in cancelled flights and is increasing with climate change. Poor visibility days in India increased to 27.3% of days in 2008 from 6.7% in 1961 and research confirmed a gradual increase has occurred in the number of fog days over three decades. The project will continue to capture fog data over several years to enable researchers to develop a model airports can use to predict fog and plan for flight cancellations more effectively.
Pollen distribution of the Argan tree in Morocco
University of Bremen
In this study, researchers analysed over a 3400-year history of vegetation, climate and fire frequency change to assess the impact on the Argan tree in southern Morocco using pollen, tiny charcoal fragments and sediment records. Model simulations show that climate change will likely have a stronger effect resulting in more arid conditions on Morocco than on other North African regions, where agriculture is the main form of land use. Argan trees grow in the Souss region under both extreme climate conditions and intense anthropogenic pressure. Argan trees grow to 8–10 m (26–33 ft) high and live up to approximately 200 years. Argan oil is produced from the seeds and practices relating to the Argan tree by the local Moroccan community are so highly valued that UNESCO has identified them as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Since the 19th century, large amounts of charcoal were produced from the argan woodlands and exported to European countries leading to a significant density decline (over 40%) of the argan woodlands between 1970 and 2007. The prediction for the potential argan woodland distribution under future climate change scenarios (2080) indicates a marked additional decline of almost 20-30% of its modern range. Understanding the history of the Argan tree helps scientists separate the impact of human activities like charcoal production versus climate change on predicting the future health and protection of remaining Argan tree populations in Morocco.