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ACCESS-S training to enhance weather and climate forecasting

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Extreme seasonal and year-to-year variation in climate present a major risk to global society, the economy, and the environment. These risks are particularly significant for Pacific Island countries and compounded by human caused climate change. Training in the use and communication of output from the Australian climate forecasting system is the goal of the very first Pacific training of the ACCESS-S forecasting model.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology's (BoM) climate forecast system for weekly to seasonal and longer-range climate outlooks is called the Australian Community Climate Earth System Simulators-Seasonal (ACCESS-S). It is a state-of-the-art dynamical (physics-based) forecast modelling system, which uses ocean, atmosphere, ice and land observations to produce outlooks for the season ahead. Output from ACCESS-S includes forecasts of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation and the Indian Ocean Dipole, as well as weekly to seasonal rainfall and temperature outlooks, and ocean surface temperature and sea level difference from normal forecasts.

The training for staff and partners of Pacific National Meteorological Services is organised by implementing partners of the Australian and New Zealand Aid funded Climate and Oceans Support Program in the Pacific Phase 2 (COSPPac2). These are the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme and the Pacific Community (SPC).

COSPPac2 aims to build resilience to the impact of climate change, climate variability and disasters by helping Pacific Island National Meteorological Services to understand and use climate, ocean and sea level data and information. This will form useful products and services to be developed and disseminated to Pacific island governments and communities.

The programme, to the value of USD 26 Million, will run from 2019 – 2022 building upon the previous phase to support 14 Pacific national meteorological services. It forms part of the Australia Pacific Climate Partnership and is delivered by BoM, in partnership with SPREP, SPC, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research of New Zealand, and Geoscience Australia.

The production of ACCESS-S seasonal and sub-seasonal predictions for COSPPac partner countries and delivery of user training is a major component of COSPPac Phase 2.

“Australia Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in partnership with BOM, SPC and SPREP have a long history of providing western Pacific countries with climate and ocean monitoring and prediction products and training,” said Dr Andrew Watkins, BOM’s Acting Manager for Climate Environment Prediction Services in opening the training workshop.

“Assistance to date has been more than just producing seasonal prediction predictions, software and delivering user training. Through COSPPac we have delivered communications training, applications projects, assisted with the development of NMS bulletins, supported Pacific Island Climate Outlook Forums and National Climate Outlook Forums and a number of stakeholder workshops,”

Sixty participants from 13 COSPPac partner countries and COSPPac’s implementation partners, SPC and SPREP were registered for the very first workshop, which is being conducted by the BOM team in conjunction with the Pacific Meteorological Desk Partnership team of SPREP and SPC.

“ACCESS-S has significant advantages over other seasonal prediction software which will allow you to develop your NMS products and services further,” said Dr Watkins

“These include outlooks that fill the gap between weather and seasonal outlooks, more frequent outlooks, higher resolution, greater spatial coverage compared to site specific outlooks, and outlooks with higher skill at longer lead times.”

The workshop is being held virtually from 22 – 24 June and 29 June – 1 July, 2021.

For more information please contact the Pacific Meteorological Desk Partnership team at pacmetdesk@sprep.org or Mr Simon McGree at simon.mcgree@bom.gov.au.