Two people walking in the rain. Photo.

Climate intelligence for charting sustainable development

Every day we make decisions on what to wear, how to travel, and what to do over the next few days based on weather forecasts. On a larger scale, various actors, from farmers to hydropower providers, plan activities for the coming weeks, months, and even decades. At the Bjerknes Climate Prediction Unit, we are developing a cutting-edge numerical climate prediction system to deliver the climate intelligence that will be useful to such actors in their decision making and to sustainably develop. 

Predicting the climate a decade in advance

Our prediction system, the Norwegian climate prediction model, combines the Norwegian Earth system model with Ensemble Kalman filter data assimilation. The former accurately simulate climate and anthropogenically driven global warming. While the assimilation of ocean and sea ice data is used to synchronize the model with the observed shorter-term fluctuations in climate. Thus, we can skilfully predict the climate out to a decade in advance.

The Norwegian climate prediction model is particularly skilful on multi-annual timescales in the North Atlantic to Arctic Sector. Paramount here is the transport of heat by the ocean to high latitudes and its influence on sea ice and the atmosphere. It gives rise to pronounced decadal shifts in climate in the region. Our model is one of a few that is predicting a shift to cooler conditions in the North Atlantic that could temporarily offset the effects of global warming in our region and parts of the Arctic (see figure below).

IPCC climate report contribution

Our numerical predictions are being used globally and locally. We were part of the decadal climate prediction project that contributed data for the Intergovernmental Panel Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Report Six. We contribute quasi-operational forecasts to the World Meteorological Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update Reports. At the national level, our climate predictions are available to more than 20 user partners from agriculture, renewable energy, shipping, and insurance sectors through Climate Futures—a recently funded centre for innovation-based research.

Illustration of predicted surface temperature anomalies for 2021-2025.

A prediction of surface temperature for 2021-2025 based on an ensemble of different models including NorCPM.

WMO Lead Centre for Annual-to-Decadal Climate Prediction


​​​​​​​Our research would not be possible without the national high-performance computer resources provided by Sigma2. Our current annual resources requirements approach 100 million CPU hours and several hundred terabytes of storage.
Noel Sebastian Keenlyside

About Bjerknes

The Bjerknes Climate Prediction Unit is a team of around 20 core researchers based at the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research in Bergen. We have been funded through grants from the Trond Mohn Foundation, European Union H2020 programmes, the Research Council of Norway, and NordForsk. 

To the Annual Report 2021