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Extreme rainfall is a serious challenge for Western Norway today. But how much rain and flooding will the region have in the future?

By telling the story about future weather on the West Coast of Norway, climate scientists aim to give local and regional decision-makers a more realistic picture of what future weather extremes might look like.

“For us climate scientists it is important to find ways that we can produce information about climate change that is most useful for decision makers to act upon, “ says research director at CICERO Center for International Climate Research, Jana Sillmann.

Together with Melanie Burford and Silvereye Pictures CICERO have made a short film telling the story about future weather on the West Coast of Norway and showcasing the results from the research project Translating Weather Extremes into the Future (TWEX). If climate scenarios are tailored to a specific region or stakeholder, in combination with numerical weather prediction models, it will offer decision-makers a more realistic picture of what future weather might look like. This could facilitate adaptation planning and implementation.

The CICERO-led research project TWEX-Future has taken a novel “Tales of future weather” approach in which we have use scenarios tailored to a specific region and stakeholder in combination with numerical weather prediction models. This approach offer a more realistic picture of what future weather extremes might look like, hence facilitating adaptation planning and implementation with local, actionable and reliable climate information to support the decision-making under consideration of various barriers to adaptation.

Climate change projections clearly indicate that heavy precipitation events will increase particularly in higher northern latitudes. Large-scale dynamical processes, such as atmospheric rivers that evolve from extra-tropical cyclones are known for causing anomalous strong orographic rainfall that can lead to severe flooding events at the west coast of Norway. To capture such events in realistic details, the current approach of downscaling coarse-resolution global climate model simulations has critical shortcomings. Hence, a seamless chain from global high-resolution climate modelling to regional downscaling to impact assessments is needed.

In TWEX-Future, we use case studies of high-impact flood events selected jointly with Norwegian stakeholders, such as Statkraft, and perform a holistic autopsy of the events (physical hazard, vulnerability, and barriers to adaptation). We simulated selected events in the present and future using a combination of high-resolution global Earth system models and regional Numerical Weather Prediction models, while maintaining the stakeholder’s operational chain for analyzing the impacts of the event in the future. This provided a valuable basis to explore, in a Norwegian context, whether the “Tales of Future Weather” approach offers added-value to current practice.

 

Jana Sillmann, project leader (CICERO)