Hydrology, Cryosphere & Earth Surface Meeting Report

Training Early-Career Polar Weather and Climate Researchers

Polar Prediction School; Abisko Scientific Research Station, Sweden, 17–27 April 2018

By , Jonathan Day, and Gunilla Svensson

Weather and climate are changing faster in the polar regions than anywhere else on Earth. These changes are opening up new opportunities for shipping, energy extraction, and tourism, but they also expose these sensitive regions to increasing environmental hazards and pose major challenges to local communities. Limitations in our ability to predict polar weather and climate changes on scales from days to decades hamper our ability to make effective decisions regarding responses to these changes. Furthermore, our understanding of how changes in the polar regions may affect the midlatitudes, including high-impact extreme events, is far from complete.

The polar prediction problem is inherently multidisciplinary and requires cooperation across a wide community. Thus, an international group of agencies specifically designed a 10-day training course to bring together a wide group of students and lecturers to cover important topics related to polar prediction. Topics included satellite and conventional observation techniques; numerical modeling of the polar atmosphere, sea ice, and ocean; and data assimilation and model evaluation. The course included an innovative combination of theory lectures, practical exercises, and fieldwork, as well as a dedicated science communication program, each of which forms a crucial pillar of the prediction problem.

Micrometeorological observations and daily radio soundings provided hands-on training opportunities, and these data were directly used in the practical exercises. This experience allowed the students to investigate the topics discussed in the theoretical lectures more thoroughly. The data were also used in the daily weather briefings: exercises that encouraged the students to interpret and evaluate forecast models specifically for the context of a mountainous polar area. During the science communication sessions, which complemented the scientific program, the students produced brief, informative videos aimed at the general public.

In contrast to single-discipline courses designed to address a narrow topic, a diverse course such as this is unusual. However, this approach is necessary to help build and maintain the community needed to address the inherently multidisciplinary polar prediction problem. Student feedback showed that the school was well appreciated, and we propose this model for other disciplines where cross-disciplinary links are crucial to progress.

The training school was organized under the auspices of the European Union Horizon 2020–funded Advanced Prediction in Polar Regions and Beyond (APPLICATE) project in cooperation with the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS) and the World Meteorological Organization’s Polar Prediction Project on the occasion of the Year of Polar Prediction. Further sponsorship was provided by the Climate and Cryosphere project, International Arctic Science Committee, and Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research. More information about the school can be found on the APECS website.

We thank all the school’s lecturers—Ian Brooks, Matthieu Chevallier, Anna Fitch, Martin Hagman, Anna Hogg, Thomas Jung, Erik Kolstad, Linus Magnusson, Donald Perovich, Jessica Rohde, and Doug Smith—as well as the excellent team at the Abisko Scientific Research Station.

—Fiona Tummon (email: [email protected]), Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø; Jonathan Day (@jonny_day), European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, Reading, U.K.; and Gunilla Svensson, Stockholm University, Sweden

Citation: Tummon, F., J. Day, and G. Svensson (2018), Training early-career polar weather and climate researchers, Eos, 99, https://doi.org/10.1029/2018EO103475. Published on 08 August 2018.
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