This award is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5).
Research by the Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies (COLA) will continue and expand the investigation of seasonal-to-interannual predictability in a changing climate, focusing on realizable predictability of the current climate, including the influence of global change - changing greenhouse gas concentrations, aerosols and land use - on the interactive ocean-atmosphere-landcryosphere system. A comprehensive predictability framework, grounded in information theory, will be further developed to understand the contributions to predictability from the initial state, the high and low frequency atmospheric transients, the coupling of climate system components, and global change. The role of the land surface and its couplings to the atmosphere and oceans, the predictability of El NiÃ±o and the Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the ENSO response, intrinsic vs. externally-forced variations in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, the global hydrologic cycle, monsoons and North American drought, and the predictability of the statistics of weather and climate extremes will be specifically addressed.
The scope of work will be extended to investigate the predictability of decadal variations to determine (1) whether or not shifts in the probability distribution of ENSO, or of seasonal anomalies in general, are predictable at decadal lead times, (2) the limits of decadal predictability, and (3) the effects of global change. The question of how the predictability of the natural modes of variability may change in conjunction with the global change is particularly relevant for providing regionally specific information on future climate and depends critically on the simulation capabilities of climate models. The long-term goal will be to help establish the scientific foundations for dynamic decadal climate prediction.
This work will employ the national climate models supported by NSF, NOAA, and NASA, including the Community Climate System Model (CCSM), the Climate Forecast System (CFS), the Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS) model and the GFDL models, with efforts to identify the strengths and weaknesses of individual models and to optimally combine them (both a priori and a posteriori). The prospect of much higher resolutions in these global models is of critical importance. The research will also include initial efforts directed toward process-resolving models for climate prediction in collaboration with CMMAP, both for the purposes of predictability/prediction studies and to evaluate the efficacy of resolved vs. parameterized clouds in global climate models. The ways in which model deficiencies are limiting the ability to both quantify predictability and realize skillful climate predictions will be examined. Maximum advantage will be taken of each model's individual strengths and uniqueness, including its niche in the nation's climate modeling agenda, and feedback at scientific and operational levels will be provided to each of the modeling groups.
BROADER IMPACT While COLA's primary focus is basic research, its establishment as a national center, its strategic partnerships and its open policies make COLA a national resource. The Committee on Strategic Guidance for NSF's Support of the Atmospheric Sciences (2007) found that COLA's efforts to understand climate predictability, to provide national leadership in climate research, and to provide information technology infrastructure are important contributors to the nation's multi-agency goals for global climate variability and change and better climate forecast services. COLA activities have broader impacts beyond basic Research via publications, education, seminars and workshops, advisory and review panels, and software and information services making a difference in several key areas, including: o Contributions to the Intergovernmental Program on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report o Educating the next generation of climate scientists through a PhD program in strategic partnership with George Mason University as well as a high school internship program o The distinguished scientific lectures program that is well attended by Washington, DC-area scientists and students, and the joint COLA-CPC "Climate Test Bed (CPC) Seminar Series" o On-site and external workshops, including workshops organized for the Sloan Foundation and the International Centre for Theoretical Physics and the May 2008 World Modeling Summit for Climate Prediction o Active membership and leadership of national and international panels of the World Climate Research Program (WCRP), NSF, AGU, US CLImate VARiability and predictability program (CLIIVAR), the Global Energy and Water cycle EXperiment (GEWEX), NOAA Applied Research Centers (ARCs) and Climate Test Bed (CTB), the CCSM, the NSF STC Multi Scale Modeling of Atmospheric Processes (CMMAP), that International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), and the national TeraGrid o Distributing weather and climate software and information, including GrADS and GDS - free, open-source software that is fully supported by COLA (www.iges.org/grads/grads.html)