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Australia is a climate exposed country with many industries dependent on favourable climatic conditions to ensure profitability.  Our climate exposure is exacerbated by the combined influences of large internal variability coupled with increasingly intense extreme events like drought, floods and bush fires driven by anthropogenic forcing.  Many commercial (e.g. primary producers) and government entities (e.g. Local, State and Federal) are increasing including climate information in their 1 to 10 years business planning tools and assessments.

These factors have contributed to increasingly strong commercial and government interest in accessing climate forecasts that extend existing seasonal forecasts to the multi-year and decadal timescales.  The ability to predict significant variations in the future climate and identify periods of increased profitability or risk on these timescales would be invaluable for industry to better consider climate in their mid- to longer term business revenue and risk assessment planning tools.

Recognizing the huge potential benefit of a decadal forecasting system to the Australian economy, the Australian Federal Government has directed CSIRO to prioritise this research effort as part of the Climate Science Centre (as given in the Governments Statement of Expectation for CSIRO). CSIRO will invest $37 Million over 10 years into the decadal climate forecasting effort within the Climate Science Centre.

Under the direction of our Minister CSIRO was directed to fund a 10 year 15 EFT effort into decadal climate forecasting.

The goal of CAFE

  1. Build the Climate Analysis Forecast Ensemble (CAFE) system and deliver ensemble multi-year to decadal climate forecasts
  2. Apply diagnostic tools, including ensemble verification metrics, to accurately assess the skill of the forecasts
  3. Advance fundamental research into: where does the predictability of the climate system resides, the processes that give rise to that predictability, and the key observations that help us to realise the potential climate predictability
  4. Explore the utility of our climate forecasts for a select group of external clients (e.g. Digiscape)

To ensure success there will need to be integration of the three activities of the project. Further the project must engage other research providers as well as internal and external clients.  In our engagement we must effectively communicate the success and challenges of delivering useful multiyear climate forecasts.

Project has 3 key activities

  1. Data Assimilation, Climate Modelling and Ensemble Generation
    • Maintain and develop the coupled model to be used for climate forecasts
    • Develop the ensemble data assimilation and forecasting system which will provide both the climate state estimating and the climate forecasting system
  2. Processes and Observations
  3. Verification and Applications