IUMS 2014 - Montréal, Canada

Science Program


The World Weather Open Science Conference Program


Weather prediction has achieved immense progress, driven by research and by the development of an increasingly sophisticated infrastructure such as telecommunications, computational and observational systems. Predictive skill now extends in some cases beyond 10 days, with an increasing capability to give many days early warning of severe weather events. The concomitant development of ensemble methods now routinely provides essential information on the probability of specific events, a key input in numerous decision making systems. Partly because of these advances, the needs of the users have simultaneously diversified, and now routinely encompass “environmental” prediction products, such as air quality or hydrological predictions.

This progress has been possible because of the research and technical developments carried out in operational centers, academic institutes, by surface and spaced-base observational data providers and the in the computing industry. Over the last decades a number of major international research programs have been critical in fostering the necessary collaboration. In particular in recent years the World Weather Research Program and THORPEX have been major initiatives to accelerate this progress.  As the science is advancing critical questions are arising such as about the possible sources of predictability on weekly, monthly and longer time-scales; seamless prediction; optimal use of local and global observing capabilities and the effective utilization of massively-parallel supercomputers. The science is primed for a step forward informed by the realization that there can be predictive power on all space and time-scales arising from currently poorly-understood sources of potential predictability. Consequently the time is right for a major World Weather Open Science Conference to examine the rapidly changing scientific and socio-economic drivers of weather science. Such Open Science Conferences happen infrequently and are designed to draw the whole research community together to review the frontiers of knowledge and to act as an international stimulus for the science and its future. Hence this Conference will consider the state-of-the-art and the future evolution of weather science and also the related environmental services and how these need to be supported by research. These discussions will be informed by research presentations and input by both providers and users of weather and environmental prediction services. The merits of key components of modern operational systems will be discussed in depth, as well as the major scientific challenges still facing the community. The event will also provide an important space for the students and early career scientists. The conference has co-sponsorship from the major scientific and operational bodies such as IAMAS and the WMO.

Objectives and Topics

In this context the Earth system, and environmental prediction, encompasses the atmosphere and its chemical composition, the oceans, sea-ice, and other cryosphere components, the land-surface, including surface hydrology, wetlands, and lakes. It also includes the short time-scale phenomena that result from the interaction between one or more components, such as severe storms, floods, heat waves, smog episodes, ocean waves and storm surge. On longer (e.g. beyond seasonal climatic) time scales, the terrestrial and ocean ecosystems, including the carbon and nitrogen cycles, and slowly varying cryosphere components such as the large continental ice sheets and permafrost are also part of the Earth system, but these time scales will not be the subject of this Conference.

  • A first objective of the Conference is to review the state of knowledge in weather and weather-prediction science, related social and applied sciences, and user communities. This will create a roadmap for the legacy of THORPEX and also enable an update of the World Weather Research Programme future focus.
  • A second objective of the Conference is to explore the many applications of weather prediction to the natural environment and their relevance and use in society. The Earth System Prediction approach for weather and environmental prediction is seen as an effective way to better address the rapidly changing and increasing social and economic demands for weather services.
  • A third objective of the Conference is to encourage the next generation of research scientists to contribute to advancing all aspects of weather science and to enhance the ability of scientists and practitioners to bridge and communicate across boundaries between disciplines and among research scientists, forecasters, service providers, and users.

The overarching theme of the OSC is Seamless Prediction of the Earth System: from minutes to months. The science presented at the conference will range from basic research that extends our knowledge of processes and methods to the applied research required to put the prediction system together and assess the impacts of weather and climate events.

The scientific program will be organized around five science themes:

1. Data Assimilation and Observations (DAO)

The Data Assimilation and Observations (DAO) research theme covers understanding and improving our current and future observational capability and ensuring it is used optimally for forecasting high-impact weather through advances in data assimilation. This research contributes to the international efforts to optimize the use of the current WMO Integrated Global Observing System (WIGOS), to design regional observing networks, and to develop well-founded strategies for the evolution of observations to support Environmental and Weather Prediction primarily for time scales of minutes to one season.

Topic of interests to be covered by this theme could be:

  • Remote sensing of weather (radar, satellite, GPS, lightning …);
  • Remote sensing of atmospheric constituents;
  •  Remote sensing of surface properties (soil moisture ...);
  •  Oceanic observation;
  •  In-situ observations;
  • Global and Regional Atmospheric Data Assimilation (e.g. troposphere, stratosphere, high impact weather, reanalysis, QPE);
  • Convective Scale Data Assimilation (e.g. to initialize high resolution NWP, nowcasting, high impact weather, QPE);
  • Atmospheric Constituent Data Assimilation (e.g. stratospheric and tropospheric composition, aerosols, air quality, reanalysis);
  • Coupled Data Assimilation (e.g. atmosphere/land, atmosphere/ocean, ocean/wave, land/ocean/sea-ice, carbon cycle, reanalysis, initializing seasonal to decadal predictions);
  • Global and Regional Ocean Data Assimilation (e.g. coastal, reanalysis, operational oceanography, salinity, ocean chlorophyll, biogeochemical);
  • Assimilation of Observations for the Land Surface (e.g. novel variables such as soil moisture, skin temperature);
  • Assimilation of Satellite, In Situ, GPS, Lightning and Radar Observations (e.g. new observation operators, bias correction, observation error specification, adaptive thinning and targeting methodology, use in cloudy and precipitating areas);
  • Methodology (e.g. variational, EnKF, hybrid methods, estimating error covariances, techniques for highly non-gaussian systems, long window/weak constraint, new methods for optimizing reanalyses, variational/ensemble parameter estimation, improving scalability, other advanced techniques);
  • Diagnostic Tools and Regional Campaigns (e.g. adjoint and ensemble sensitivity, study of analysis increments for model evaluation, observation impact studies, OSSEs, climate applications).

2. Predictability and Dynamical/Physical/Chemical Processes (PDPCP)

The Predictability and Dynamical/Physical/Chemical Processes (PDPCP) theme will cover the knowledge of the dynamical, physical, and chemical processes needed to advance our understanding of the sources of predictability for seamless prediction of the earth system. It will include evaluation and improvement of parameterizations and explicit representations of dynamical, physical and chemical processes in numerical weather prediction systems. It will also cover field programmes, especially linked to WWRP and THORPEX, and dynamics and predictability of high-impact weather events. This theme will connect research in the academic dynamical/physical/chemical meteorology communities and the operational numerical weather prediction centres.

Topic of interests to be covered by this theme could be:

  • Numerical methods and next generation models;
  • Sub-grid parameterization (grey zone, gravity waves, orography, land surface, turbulence …) ;
  • Ensemble and stochastic forcing;
  • Boundary layer (atmospheric and oceanic at all latitudes);
  • Clouds and convection (observations, processes and micro-physics);
  • Tropical systems (tropical cyclones, monsoons, MJO);
  • Tropical – extratropical interactions;
  • Predictability and dynamics of the ocean.
3. Interactions between sub-systems

The Interactions between Sub-systems theme will cover research into the fundamental processes that determine these interactions, the technical developments needed to couple models of the interacting sub systems, and the evaluation of the resulting coupled system. It will focus on the coupling (one or two-way) of two sub-systems for prediction from a few hours to one season and for regional and global modeling forecasting applications. Interactions will be considered for the following sub-systems: atmosphere, land-surface, ocean, sea-ice, chemistry and eco-systems. The increasing complexity of coupling multiple sub-systems will be covered by the next sub-theme.

Topic of interests to be covered by this theme could be:

  • Ocean-cryosphere-atmosphere;
  • Air-land and water cycle;
  • Atmosphere-chemistry;
  • Storm surge and wave modeling; and,
  • Ecosystems.
4. Numerical Prediction of the Earth system: putting it all together

The Numerical Prediction of the Earth system: putting it all together research theme will cover the development, the verification and the application of coupled NWP systems. The advances covered in this theme build on the science of the previous three themes and result in state-of-the-art environmental forecasting systems for the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere, land-surface, hydrology, and air-quality.

The increase in predictive skill in NWP systems in the last few decades was due to sophisticated interplay of research and development advancements in numerical methods, sub-grid scale physics parameterizations (cloud, mountain, etc.), data assimilation of surface and space observation systems and HPC system. The HPC system amelioration drives the NWP science by permitting a space-time resolution increase in the modelling of the dynamical and physical processes of the atmosphere. The predictive skill of these NWP systems is such that they need now to be coupled to other physical sub-systems; i) to be able to continue improving their predictive skill; and, ii) to respond to an increase demand of new environmental applications.

The science behind environmental prediction plays a role in helping us understands and responds to: environmental high-impact events (e.g., environmental emergencies, drought, flood, AQ …), economic issues (e.g., forest fires, health …) and opportunities (e.g., wind energy, water management …).

Topic of interests to be covered by this theme could be:

  • Urban prediction (weather, aerosol and AQ)
  • Local and Regional high resolution prediction (weather, aerosol and AQ)
  • Global medium-range prediction (weather, aerosol and AQ)
  • Sub-seasonal to seasonal prediction
  •  Polar prediction
  •  Tropical prediction
  •  Verification at all time and space scales
  •  Hydrology and water cycle
  •  Ensemble prediction

5. Weather-related Hazards and Impacts

The Weather-related Hazards and Impacts theme, jointly convened with the User, Application and Social Science programme, will cover research that combines advances made in observing systems, coupled NWP systems and new technology to provide decision-level information related to both hazards and impacts. With respect to hazards it will include techniques to merge information from observations and NWP towards seamless prediction at short time and space scales, applications such as meteorological workstations, and advances in the forecasting process including semi-automation of warnings to support operational meteorologists In addition, research into vulnerability and exposure for both single hazards and multi-hazards will be included. With respect to impacts it will focus on the interactions between weather-related hazards, events or conditions, and important biophysical systems that are known to produce substantive societal consequences. Here emphasis will be placed on research that quantifies impacts along with our ability to predict them using both deterministic and probabilistic methods, and lends itself to inclusion in decision support systems. Weather events on timescales, from minutes through to a season, and many types of hazard (acute and chronic) including muliti-hazard scenarios will be considered. Example applications include models developed to estimate hydrologic or water quality conditions and attendant impacts (inundation, drought, and pollution), storm surge and structural wind damage, agricultural production, forest fire occurrence, energy demand, aviation hazards, and health-related outcomes from air pollution or excessive heat. The perception and use of this type of impact information—its characterization, communication and application in actual decision making and resulting behaviour, outcomes and benefits—will be considered more fully within the User, Application & Social Science (UAS) Program sessions.

Sub-themes of interests to be covered by these sessions could be:

  • Techniques at the transition from Nowcasting to NWP;
  • Meteorological applications;
  •  Developing operational forecast techniques;
  • Estimation of the economic (societal) value of weather and environmental information;
  • Understanding and improving the use of weather and environmental information in decision making;
  • Understanding and improving the communication of weather and environmental forecast uncertainty;
  • Development of user-relevant verification methods; and
  • Development of decision support systems and tools.

The sub-themes could cover issues related to the following topics:

  • Megacities: air quality and weather impacts;
  • Flood, landslide, forest fire, drought, storm surge, avalanche;
  • Volcanic ash;
  • Water quality;
  • Energy;
  • Transport;
  • Agriculture.





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