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Advances in Climate Analysis and Monitoring: Reflections on 40 Years of Climate Diagnostics and Prediction Workshops

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  • 1 NOAA/CPC, College Park, Maryland, and Columbia University, New York, New York
  • 2 Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center, University of Maryland, College, Park, College Park, Maryland
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Abstract

We examine the progress in the analysis of climate variability through the lens of a 40-year series of annual Climate Diagnostics and Prediction Workshops initiated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 1976. The evolution of climate data and data access, data analysis and display, and our understanding of the physical mechanisms associated with climate variability, as well as the evolution in the character of the workshops, are documented by reference to the series of workshop proceedings. This retrospective essay chronicles the transition from the mid-1970s, when individual investigators or their organizations held much of the climate data suitable for research, to the present day, where many of the key climate datasets are freely accessible on the Internet. In parallel we also chart the evolution in data analysis and display tools from hand-drawn line graphs of single-station data to color animations of regional and global fields based on satellite data, numerical models, and sophisticated analysis tools. Discussion of these two themes is augmented by documentation of the increasing understanding of the physical climate system as climate science moved away from the “bones of bare statistics” that characterized climate analysis in the mid–twentieth century toward the “flesh of physical understanding.”

Retired

© 2017 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR E-MAIL: Chester F. Ropelewski, chetr.climate@gmail.com

Abstract

We examine the progress in the analysis of climate variability through the lens of a 40-year series of annual Climate Diagnostics and Prediction Workshops initiated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 1976. The evolution of climate data and data access, data analysis and display, and our understanding of the physical mechanisms associated with climate variability, as well as the evolution in the character of the workshops, are documented by reference to the series of workshop proceedings. This retrospective essay chronicles the transition from the mid-1970s, when individual investigators or their organizations held much of the climate data suitable for research, to the present day, where many of the key climate datasets are freely accessible on the Internet. In parallel we also chart the evolution in data analysis and display tools from hand-drawn line graphs of single-station data to color animations of regional and global fields based on satellite data, numerical models, and sophisticated analysis tools. Discussion of these two themes is augmented by documentation of the increasing understanding of the physical climate system as climate science moved away from the “bones of bare statistics” that characterized climate analysis in the mid–twentieth century toward the “flesh of physical understanding.”

Retired

© 2017 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR E-MAIL: Chester F. Ropelewski, chetr.climate@gmail.com
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