Predicting weather events months before they happen
Clemens Spensberger's research aims to drastically improve prediction of weather incidents, by describing and establishing climate links between different geographical regions.
"There is a connection between the tropical Pacific Ocean and the North Atlantic. What happens in the Pacific Ocean has effects in our part of the world," says Clemens Spensberger, a researcher at the Geophysical institute at the University of Bergen and the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research.
Connecting weather events
His hypothesis is that weather events in the Indo-Pacific are sporadically connected to similar events in the Atlantic Ocean, through different chains of events along the way.
The Germany-born researcher aims to launch the project "Teleweather", testing his hypothesis.
"This would explain why the connection is not equally strong all the time" he says.
There can be great benefits in improving the predictions of weather events, the researcher reckons, for example for the farming industry, shipping industry and marine industries. The perspective following chains of weather events should make it possible to figure out the circumstances under which the tropical Pacific can influence the North Atlantic.
His project is specifically looking closer at what is called "Teleconnections".
The term is often used in atmospheric sciences to describe the climate links between geographically separated regions.
Some teleconnections can be relatively local, such as the North Atlantic Oscillation, an anticorrelation between the sea-level pressure over Iceland and the Azores.
The North-Atlantic is linked to the tropical Indo-Pacific
Spensberger, however, wants to research teleconnections that extend over larger distances. One example is variations in tropical convection in the Indo-Pacific associated with the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which influence the North Atlantic weather on monthly to seasonal time scales despite the large distance between these regions.
When the project is funded, he aims to run model simulations with different idealised models over longer time periods.
Capturing the essence
"We aim to recreate actual weather events of the past. If we are able to recreate them, we know that we have included all essentials in a model that is still simple enough to fully understand what is going on," the researcher says.
He explains that his choice of theme in this project is to create something that is useful for the world.
His dream scenario as a researcher is to show that there is a common thread to everything.
"All weather events are a consequence of what came before, and in turn have consequences for what comes after. It may seem chaotic, but there is a system," Spensberger says.