Visit to the Climate Change Research Centre (CCRC) at the University of New South Wales (UNSW)

April 2017




I am very grateful to have received financial support from the Royal Meteorological Society which enabled me to undertake research and expand my professional network at the CCRC in at the UNSW in Sydney, Australia

The CCRC is a multi-disciplinary worldwide known research institution hosting world leading scientists with expertise in atmospheric, oceanic and terrestrial processes. The CCRC is part of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science in Australia. This excellence is not only noticeable in contributions to climate research but also in infrastructure as well as working atmosphere and conditions for scientists at every stage of their career.

During my 6 weeks at the CCRC I was investigating the predictability of extreme wind speeds and large scale mean sea level pressure (MSLP) patterns in Europe in the ECMWF seasonal forecast product System 4. Additionally I developed a statistical model which utilises MSLP patterns observed in November, to predict potential extreme winds for the upcoming December, January and February (DJF).

To investigate the predictability of wind speeds I developed a metric that incorporates the entire upper tail of the wind speed distribution, i.e. the sum of all wind speeds larger than the local 98th percentile divided by all available days in a DJF season. That way this metric is a combined measure of intensity and occurrence of wind speeds.  The predictability of this newly designed metric was analysed with the concept of statistical entropy that has its roots in information theory. Simply put, the statistical entropy quantifies the uncertainty within an ensemble forecast like the ECMWF System 4.

I started and ended this side project which will be part of my PhD at the University of Birmingham within those 6 weeks, as I managed to draft a first paper manuscript during my last week which hopefully will be ready to submit by the end of June. Thus I consider my research stay at the CCRC as a major success both academically as in writing a scientific paper and also professionally as I was able to meet world leading scientists in the field of meteorology and climatology. The weekly seminars held at the CCRC also helped to expand my horizon to research that is undertaken at the other end of the world. One particular interesting talk was about the scarcity of climatological measurements due to the vastness of the Australian continent. In fact there are areas the size of a European country that do not feature any measurement at all. Thus the challenge of creating gridded data sets which can be used for model evaluation to start with turns out as a big problem. Coming from densely populated Europe, these potential issues hadn’t occurred to me at all.