How can we understand and anticipate the global and regional impacts of climate variability and change?
What knowledge do we need to improve climate models and predictions?
The Climate Variability & Predictability (CVP) Program supports research aimed at providing process-level understanding of the climate system through observation, modeling, analysis, and field studies. This vital knowledge is needed to improve climate models and predictions so that scientists can better anticipate the impacts of future climate variability and change. CVP is managed by the Earth System Science (ESS) Division within NOAA's Climate Program Office.
To achieve its mission, the CVP Program supports research carried out at NOAA and other federal laboratories, NOAA Cooperative Institutes, and academic institutions. The Program also coordinates its sponsored projects with major national and international scientific bodies including the World Climate Research Programme, the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme, and the U.S. Global Change Research program.
- Understand the dynamics of, and sources of predictability in, the coupled ocean-atmosphere-land-ice system across all climate time scales;
- Improve our ability to understand and predict future atmospheric CO2 concentrations; and
- Understand the forcing of the climate system by aerosols and greenhouse gases.
The CVP Program funds research that leads to new discoveries and refines our knowledge of many aspects of the climate system. CVP supports NOAA mission-critical research, modeling, analysis, and data collection aimed at gaining a better understanding of the processes associated with climate phenomena. These activities are essential steps toward delivering climate prediction and assessment products for risk management and decision-making.
CVP-funded researchers improve our understanding of how greenhouse gases and aerosols behave in the atmosphere and how they impact society. Our researchers measure and model a range of atmospheric species that affect climate.
For example, anthropogenic and natural aerosols can both have a large effect on air quality and climate, and are sources of uncertainty in climate research. Studies addressing emissions of aerosol precursors, aerosol formation, and aerosol-cloud interactions address critical questions at the nexus of air quality and climate. While aerosols contribute negatively to air quality, their effect on climate is less certain. The complicated relationship between aerosols and clouds can lead to increased, decreased, delayed, intensified, or otherwise altered precipitation, making weather and hydrological cycle processes much less predictable.
Researchers also continue to monitor, diagnose, and predict the variability of the global carbon cycle and its impact on climate. ESS research plays a vital role in efforts to monitor, report, and verify regional emissions, including those from fossil fuel use, to provide an independent check on emissions accounting based on economic inventories.
By Air, Land, and Sea: Exploring the Mysteries of the Madden-Julian Oscillation
The Indian Ocean is one of Earth’s most sensitive regions because the interactions between ocean and atmosphere there have a discernable effect on global climate patterns. The tropical weather that brews in that region can move eastward along the equator and reverberate around the globe, shaping weather and climate in far-off places. The vehicle for this variability is a phenomenon called the Madden-Julian Oscillation, or MJO.
The MJO, which originates over the Indian Ocean roughly every 30 to 90 days, is known to influence the Asian and Australian monsoons. It can also enhance hurricane activity in the northeast Pacific and Gulf of Mexico, trigger torrential rainfall along the west coast of North America, and affect the onset of El Niño.
State-of-the-art global climate models are currently limited in their ability to simulate the MJO, which can degrade their seasonal to interannual predictions and future climate projections. In order to improve climate prediction and assessment products for risk management and decision-making, CVP-funded scientists participated in a field campaign called the Dynamics of the Madden-Julian Oscillation (DYNAMO) in 2011-12. Results from this international campaign are expected to improve researcher’s insights into this influential phenomenon.