by Judith Curry
The US CLIVAR program goals: US CLIVAR is a US national research program investigating the variability and predictability of the global climate system on seasonal, interannual, decadal and centennial timescales, with a particular emphasis on the role the ocean plays in climate variability.
From the Executive Summary of the Science Plan:
The solid progress made over the last 15 years calls for a review and an update of the original terms of reference for US CLIVAR. This Science Plan updates the goals and priorities of US CLIVAR in light of the achievements to date. Additionally, the Science Plan articulates important implementation activities to expand upon US CLIVAR’s core research to target specific Research Challenges that emphasize strengthened ties to the broader Earth science community and relevance to societal impacts. As such, the Science Plan provides a guidebook for the maintenance and development of scientific activities during the lifetime of the program.
For a flavor of the topics covered, consider this excerpt from the Table of Contents:
Chapter 3. Fundamental Science Questions
- 3.1 What processes are critical for climate variability and change in the ocean?
- 3.2 What are the connections and feedbacks of oceanic climate variability to other components of the Earth’s climate system?
- 3.3 How predictable is the climate on different time and space scales?
- 3.4 What determines regional expressions of climate variability and change?
Chapter 4. Goals
- 4.1 Goal 1: Understand the role of the oceans in observed climate variability on different timescales
- 4.2 Goal 2: Understand the processes that contribute to climate variability and change in the past, present, and future
- 4.3 Goal 3: Better quantify uncertainty in the observations, simulations, predictions, and projections of climate variability and change
- 4.4 Goal 4: Improve the development and evaluation of climate simulations and predictions
- 4.5 Goal 5: Collaborate with research and operational communities that develop and use climate information
Chapter 5. Research Challenges
- 5.1 Decadal variability and predictability
- 5.2 Climate extremes
- 5.3 Polar climate changes
- 5.4 Climate and marine carbon/biogeochemistry
Chapter 6. Cross-Cutting Strategies
- 6.1 Sustained and new observations
- 6.2 Process studies
- 6.3 Model development strategies
- 6.4 Quantifying improvements in predictions and projections
- 6.5 Communication of climate research
JC comments: Read the report, its easy reading with some good background info on key climate issues (albeit with a fair amount of programmatic stuff). Overall a very good job on this report, highlighting what we know and recent accomplishments, targeting the key challenges and uncertainties, and provide a road map for moving forward.
This document gives a very different flavor than the AR5 report, with its high confidence levels. I find the format of the CLIVAR report to be very useful for a multi-decadal science program, and far more useful and confidence inspiring for decision makers that a series of reports (e.g. IPCC) that essentially say the same thing but with increasing confidence levels. There are some decreased confidence levels in AR5 relative to AR4, but you need to go back to AR4 to identify these differences; doing so then gives the impression that the IPCC tends to be overconfident in their conclusions.
While the target audience for the CLIVAR report is primarily the decision makers that fund science, I think this format for a report (which is really an assessment and strategic planning doc) would be useful for the broader population of policy makers. Your thoughts on the best way to convey our understanding to policy makers about climate change in context of periodic assessment reports?