By Jonny Day
During the last 2 weeks Dr Jonny Day spent two weeks lecturing and coordinating a Polar Prediction School for graduate students and early career researchers. The school is a joint initiative from the World Weather Research Programme (WWRP) – Polar Prediction Project, World Climate Research Program (WCRP) – Polar Climate Predictability Initiative and Bolin Centre for Climate Research.
The school was based at the Abisko Scientific Research Station in northern Sweden – an appropriately Arctic environment (Figure 1). It brought in 28 PhD students and early career researchers from all over the world and a wide range of disciplines for nine days of lectures and practical exercises on the theme of polar prediction. Organised by Jonny Day (Reading University) and Gunilla Svensson (Stockholm University), the invited lecturers included Ian Brooks (University of Leeds), James Screen (Exeter University), Helge Gossling and Thomas Jung (AWI), Cecilia Bitz (University of Washington), Don Perovich (CRREL), Erik Kolstad (University Bergen), Jen Kay (Colorado University), and Matthew Chevallier (Meteo France).
Figure 1. Fieldwork at the Abisko Scientific Research Station in northern Sweden
Polar regions are experiencing rapid changes to their climate; this is opening up new possibilities for businesses such as tourism, shipping, and oil and gas extraction. At the same time it brings new risks to these delicate environments. Effective weather and climate prediction is essential to managing these risks. The complexity of the polar environmental systems, and very limited measurements in these remote regions, make them very challenging environments to provide accurate forecasts for any time scale from days to decades.
Figure 2. Making measurements of near-surface wind and temperature profiles and the surface energy budget using a micro-meteorology mast erected on the frozen surface of Lake Torneträsk, northern Sweden
As well as an intensive program of lectures and modelling exercises, students conducted practical work based around measurements of near-surface wind and temperature profiles and the surface energy budget made from a micro-meteorology mast erected on the frozen surface of Lake Torneträsk (Figure 2). Radiosondes were released each day, with one day of intensive measurements where radiosondes were released every 3 hours for 24 hours to study the diurnal cycle of boundary layer structure (Figure 3). All the observations were drawn together on the final day to study the full range of processes governing the surface energy balance over the previous week. Other lectures and exercises covered chaotic systems and predictability, operational ocean prediction, modelling polar boundary layer processes, ensemble climate prediction, sea ice processes, and polar lows.
Figure 3. Radiosondes were released each day, with one day of intensive measurements where radiosondes were released every 3 hours for 24 hours to study the diurnal cycle of boundary layer structure