Climate research: Making weather forecasts mo

Climate research: making weather forecasts more precise and efficient

Image: dr Julian Quinting receives an ERC Starting Grant. (Photo: Amadeus Bramsiepe, KIT)
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Photo credits: Amadeus Bramsiepe, KIT

Improving weather forecasts and reducing their computing effort in order to save costs and energy – these are the goals of the ASPIRE project. The meteorologist Dr. Julian Quinting from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) uses recurring signals in the tropical Pacific, which have an important influence on the atmospheric circulation in Europe. In addition, he develops machine learning models to mimic the effects of high resolution. The young scientist has now received a Starting Grant from the European Research Council for his project.

In view of the energy crisis and climate change, the importance of reliable weather forecasts for a period between two weeks and two months is increasing. Knowing what the temperatures will be four weeks from now can be crucial to estimating a building’s heat requirements and filling gas storage tanks. On the other hand, the accurate forecast of extreme weather events such as heat waves, droughts or floods helps the authorities and the public to prepare in good time and to avoid or reduce potential damage. dr Julian Quinting from the Institute for Meteorology and Climate Research of the KIT – Department Tropospheric Research works in his new project ASPIRE (what for: Improving subseasonal forecasts with reduced computational effort). The European Research Council (ERC) supports the project with a starting grant.

Recurring patterns with high predictability

The aim of the excellent young scientist and his future working group is not only to improve the accuracy of forecasts, but also to reduce the computational effort, which saves costs and energy and thus also reduces greenhouse gas emissions. “My basic idea is to make greater use of sources in the atmospheric system with high intrinsic predictability,” explains Quinting. “These sources are, for example, recurring patterns in the atmosphere that vary on a time scale of two weeks to two months.” The meteorologist considers recurring signals in the tropical Pacific, which have a major influence on the atmospheric circulation in Europe, to be particularly promising. However, these tropical signals are poorly represented in numerical weather forecast models and thus prevent the underlying intrinsic predictability from being fully exploited. In ASPIRE, Quinting plans to improve the representation of tropical signals through high spatial resolution in the tropics. However, such a high resolution typically requires more computing power. To avoid this, Quinting and his group are also developing machine learning models that mimic the effects of high resolution, helping to reduce computational effort.

New opportunities for weather services

“With ASPIRE, we want to show the potential of simulations with locally high spatial resolution,” says Quinting. “Ideally, weather services can make even better use of the available computing power.” If the chosen approach proves successful, it could be used for climate research on other components of the atmospheric system that also have a high intrinsic predictability but are misrepresented in weather forecast models.

ERC Starting Grant 2022

The ERC supports excellent young scientists who want to start an independent career and set up a working group with Starting Grants. Each selected project will receive up to 1.5 million euros annually for up to five years. Under certain circumstances, up to one million euros can also be requested, for example for equipment or access to infrastructure. In the 2022 call for applications, the European Research Council awarded Starting Grants to 408 scientists from 26 European countries, 81 of them in Germany. The ERC Starting Grants have a total funding volume of 636 million euros. 2932 applications were received, which corresponds to an approval rate of 13.9 percent.

More information about the ERC

More about the KIT Climate and Environment Center

As “The Research University in the Helmholtz Association”, KIT creates and imparts knowledge for society and the environment. The aim is to make significant contributions to the global challenges in the areas of energy, mobility and information. To this end, around 9,800 employees work together in a wide range of subjects from the natural sciences, engineering, economics, humanities and social sciences. The KIT prepares its 22,300 students for responsible tasks in society, economy and science through research-based courses. Innovation efforts at KIT build a bridge between important scientific findings and their application for the benefit of society, economic prosperity, and the preservation of our natural foundations of life. The KIT is one of the German Universities of Excellence.

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