A new study from Stockholm University entitled "How Global Warming Changes the Difficulty of Synoptic Weather Forecasting" was recently published in Geophysical Research Letters. As the study’s name suggests, researchers Sebastian Scher and Gabriele Messori focused their work on better understanding the impacts of climate change on weather forecasts in the northern hemisphere spanning 3-10 days ahead.
The research is relevant not only to the meteorological field, but for public safety and emergency planning. “Due to the enormous socioeconomic importance of accurate weather forecasts, it is essential to know whether climate change adaption policies also need to take into account potential changes in the difficulty and accuracy of weather forecasts,” writes Science Daily.
The researchers used climate and weather prediction models to determine which specific aspects of weather forecasting will become more difficult to predict as warming progresses. They found that while it will be easier to predict weather aspects such as temperature and pressure in a warmer world, it will be more difficult to make accurate precipitation forecasts. This “might strongly affect both disaster prevention and rainfall‐dependent industries such as the energy sector, all of which heavily rely on accurate precipitation forecasts,” the authors write.
The team also discovered that the decreased temperature differences between the North Pole and the equator explain the unpredictability of pressure fields, making weather predictions that much more difficult. The most difficult weather predictions will come in the form of weekly summer rainfall sums.
"Reliable weather forecasts are tremendously important for almost all of society, and summer flooding in the northern hemisphere especially is one of the great challenges as the climate is getting warmer," says lead author, Sebastian Scher. "It is very important that meteorological institutes around the world are given the opportunity to develop their tools and methods as conditions change."
The researchers plan to continue their study at Stockholm University with further investigations into better predicting heavy summer downpours in 24-48 hours. Such rainstorms often have significant impacts on flooding in certain regions.