Unprepared for Global Climate Events
At the time the most dramatic global climate event in modern history was the 1982-83 El Nino episode formed in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. Vivid recollections include harsh and historic drought leading to widespread brush fires in Australia, “1,000 times the normal stream flows” in the rivers of Peru where 10+ feet of rainfall occurred, sea level drop in the equatorial Pacific exposing Pacific atolls killing wildlife and altering cross-Pacific bird migration plus shark attacks off the Oregon coast as the Pacific warmed well north of the tropics. Every population and industry has an El Nino story from the 2-year period.
Guess what? The catastrophic impact on lives (thousands of fatalities) and the economy ($8B loss in the U.S. alone) was a complete surprise. There were no climate forecast models in the early 1980s.
Scientists Respond, Mixed Results
But that changed! The scare of a repeat El Nino 1982-83 style pushed the scientific community into developing modelling to better understand the atmosphere and what led to the catastrophic global climate events of 1982-83. It was an immense effort taking nearly a decade to complete. By the middle 1990s, the NOAA Climate Prediction Center launched the first probabilistic long-lead climate forecast.
The long-lead climate forecast predicted seasonal climate across the U.S. at 90-day seasonal intervals out to one year. The climate forecast models were based mostly on the strong correlation of the El Nino southern oscillation (ENSO) to U.S. weather patterns therefore forecast skill was quite good if an El Nino or La Nina climate regime was present. In 1997-98 another El Nino occurred and very similar to the 1982-83 episode. This time the event was expertly forecast by NOAA long-lead forecast.
The climate is always changing and the forecast processes used to predict climate must also adapt. The next El Nino occurred in 2002-03 and the 1982-83/1997-98 analog was used to predict that year’s winter climate which meant a stormy southern California regime and warmth across the eastern half of the U.S. That forecast failed! Southern California was dry and eastern U.S. was colder than normal that winter season. California hydro-electric power anticipating abundant winter rain and snow was short-changed. Lack of energy demand due to an El Nino winter in the East was fooled as winter went very cold.
What happened? The 2002-03 El Nino was different as most of the equatorial Pacific warming was closer to the Dateline rather than off the northwest coast of South America. That western shift of the El Nino-inspired warm water altered the winter 2002-03 climate.
Many more examples of ENSO-based climate forecasts were failing after the 1997-98 El Nino. One of the reasons was the warming of the North Atlantic which lead to higher incidence of drought and a dramatic increase in North Atlantic hurricanes. Forecasters correctly began using other aspects of climate such as soil moisture regimes, snow cover and middle latitude ocean temperatures to more efficiently forecast climate. Climate Impact Company was one of the first to adapt to this forecast process change.
The modern-day climate forecast certainly considers ENSO. However, a wide variety of additional parameters is needed to generate reliably accurate predictions and that’s Climate Impact Company’s specialty.
Why Climate Impact Company
Climate Impact Company formed in 2004 and has participated in the climate forecast evolution. Our lead forecaster and founder, Scott Yuknis, is considered one of the top climate forecasters in the world according to many of our clients. As one industry leader said recently, “Climate Impact Company is different.” Our forecast team certainly considers ENSO to drive climate forecasts. However, we also utilize many aspects of the global climate to generate outlooks that differ frequently different from other providers and perform more accurately.
Climate forecasts are never perfect. Adapting to the nature of the modern-day climate is an important skill necessary for nearly every culture and business. The current persistent record warmth of the entire global ocean surface is making forecasts more difficult. As a result, we improve our forecast process to make the best climate forecast possible. The evolution of the climate prediction process is a specialty of Climate Impact Company.
One of The First
If you’re a client of Climate Impact Company, you’ll notice a new aspect of the climate being introduced operationally to the climate forecast process. Using soil moisture, middle latitude ocean temperatures and snow cover to generate a climate forecast has become quite common, but we are proud to say that Climate Impact Company was one of the first to utilize this process operationally for industry and the markets.
Our Ongoing Innovation - Week 2-4 Forecast
Climate Impact Company maintains our reputation as a climate forecast leader with the recent development of the week 2-4 forecast. Given the changing nature of climate in the climate change era, the reality is that climate forecasts will never be perfect. Instead, we strive for the highest degree of accuracy possible. This requires consistent monitoring of the climate forecast to determine whether it’s on target or needs a revision. As a result, we issue week 2-4 forecasts weekly across the globe to assess pattern changes that could affect the seasonal forecast.
Information and Monitoring = Confidence in Climate Related Decisions
The old concern within industry - especially the markets - was when will the pattern change? A switch from cold to warm or wet to dry or the reverse drives decisions. Energy and agriculture are traditional users of this information. However, nearly every industry benefits by having this knowledge.
The new focus is on weather extremes within climate. When will that severe weather event occur? What is the risk for my business? It’s helpful to know if the summer or winter will be cooler or warmer than normal.
Confidence in the forecast is as important as the actual forecast. Climate Impact Company attains the best climate forecast possible, then monitors that forecast by utilizing the week 2-4 forecast. The result? Climate Impact Company informs you of pattern change AND risk of weather extremes well in advance. It’s what we do best.
And our clients agree. Since 2004, numerous energy, agriculture, related media, conferences and industry meteorologists have been on this ride of operational climate forecast discovery with us. Climate Impact Company steps forward to expand what we’ve learned and share that benefit with additional industries who also need to manage climate related risk.