A concerted international campaign to improve predictions of weather, climate and ice conditions in the Arctic and Antarctic has been launched to minimize the environmental risks and maximize the opportunities associated with rapid climate change in polar regions and to close the current gaps in polar forecasting capacity.
The Year of Polar Prediction takes place from mid-2017 to mid-2019 in order to cover an entire year in both the Arctic and Antarctic and involves the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) and a wide array of partners around the globe.
During the next two years, a large international and interdisciplinary network of scientists and operational forecasting centres will jointly undertake intensive observation and modelling activities in the Arctic and Antarctic. As a result, better forecasts of weather and sea-ice conditions will reduce future risks and enable safety management in the polar regions, and also lead to improved forecasts in lower latitudes where most people live.
“The effects of global warming due to greenhouse gas emissions are felt more intensely in the polar regions than anywhere else. The Arctic and parts of the Antarctic are heating twice as rapidly as the rest of the world, causing melting of glaciers, shrinking sea ice and snow cover. The impact of this is felt in other parts of the globe – as exemplified by rising sea levels and changing weather and climate patterns,” said Thomas Jung, of the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, and chair of the Polar Prediction Project steering committee.
“Arctic sea-ice maximum extent after the winter re-freezing period in March was the lowest on record because of a series of ‘heat-waves.’ Antarctic sea ice minimum extent after the most recent Southern Hemisphere summer melt was also the lowest on record. The rate and implications of polar environmental change is pushing our scientific knowledge to the limits”, said Mr Jung.
The Year Of Polar Prediction was officially launched during WMO’s annual Executive Council meeting. Polar and high mountain activities are among WMO’s top strategic priorities because of the growing impact of climate change from greenhouse gas emissions, because of the need to improve our understanding of weather phenomena in extreme regions and because the poor monitoring network leaves gaping holes in the global weather observing capability.
During special observing periods, the number of routine observations, for example through weather balloon launches from meteorological stations and buoy deployments from research vessels, will be enhanced; coordinated aircraft campaigns and satellite missions will be carried out; and new automatic weather stations will be installed at different polar locations.
In addition, coordinated field campaigns from mid-2017 to mid-2019 will raise the number of observations in both polar regions. A growing number of international projects, networks and organizations are already involved with activities during the Year of Polar Prediction, including several EU Horizon 2020 projects.
The YOPP Southern Hemisphere efforts are being coordinated by David Bromwich, SCAR’s Chief Officer for the Physical Sciences Group <http://www.scar.org/28-science/psg> and thus are closely tied to many of SCAR’s efforts. Learn more about the Southern Hemisphere plans here: http://polarmet.osu.edu/YOPP-SH/
For more information on the Year of Polar Prediction (YOPP), visit the Polar Prediction website <http://www.polarprediction.net/>.
Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR)
Scott Polar Research Institute
University of Cambridge
Cambridge, CB2 1ER