Scoping Meeting for a Mediterranean Climate Outlook Forum.

12-14 junio 2013, Madrid.


Following the recommendations given by RA VI Task Team on RCOF and supported by the RA VI Working Group on Climate and Hydrology targeting South Western Europe / Mediterranean basin as suitable for a RCOF implementation.

Considering the recommendation by the Scoping Workshop on Seasonal climate Prediction (Algeria, January 2012) of extending the existing RA I PRESANORD to the whole Mediterranean area involving thus RA I and RA VI.

Noting the vital importance of the collaboration and joint contribution of Regional Associations in developing capacities for the Climate Services Information System, such as the initiative of RA VI and RA I jointly launching an RCOF for the Mediterranean Region, as was pointed out during the 65th session of WMO Executive Council.

AEMET jointly with WMO -and after conversations with many parties- convened a Scoping Meeting at AEMET headquarters in Madrid from 12 to 14 June 2013 to define the features and objectives of a future Regional Climate Outlook Forum encompassing among others National and Regional Services around the whole Mediterranean region (participants and programme are attached in the annex).

The meeting started with three keynote speeches given by the Presidents of WMO Regional Associations I and VI and by the Head of the Global Framework of Climate Services (GFCS) Office. In their three speeches they underlined the need to promote collaboration among all Mediterranean member states in the first interregional RCOF (RA VI and RA I) as part of the deployment and implementation of the GFCS. The first two sessions included a series of short targeted oral presentations about the Mediterranean climate and predictability features. These presentations served as background information for discussion sessions mainly devoted to consider the characteristics and design of a RCOF for the region. Concerning the quality of seasonal forecasts, it was shown that current seasonal forecast systems still have poor skill over big areas in the Mediterranean region. The actual challenge is the coordination of efforts to improve forecast systems and to combine climate information from different sources aiming at achieving higher predictive skill for certain windows of opportunity.

There was a strong agreement in creating a single MedCOF for the whole Mediterranean region. This preference was supported by the fact that large-scale forcings (e.g., NAO) are shared by the whole basin although the effects are different across the region. It was also suggested that a joint RCOF respecting and building over the existing ones would allow the countries with less experience to take advantage of the expertise available in some other countries. The existing RCOFs –PRESANORD and SEECOF- will continue working and coordinated through the MedCOF umbrella. It was left open the possibility of creating a South Western Europe RCOF complementary of the existing ones as a part of a network of Mediterranean RCOFs focusing in the most operational aspects of the RCOF responsibilities.

Water management was clearly identified as a critical stake for the different countries and sub-regions. Water and water-related seasonal information (precipitation, soil moisture, drought, snow-cover especially in the mountain areas, river discharge, etc…) emerged as issues of great interest especially for their cross-sectorial implications: agriculture, energy and tourism, which were also identified as probably the most relevant issues for the whole area. Energy, both production and demand, has also been indicated as a major stake for a number of Mediterranean countries. It has been suggested that relevant information can be produced at seasonal time scales for both production (water and river discharge especially) and demand (temperature either in winter and, especially, in summer). Therefore efficient interaction with stakeholders from these two sectors will be a priority for MedCOF.

Concerning timescales, it was also agreed to focus MedCOF sessions initially on seasonal timescale, but linking them at the same time with sub-seasonal and annual timescales as some centres are already delivering information for such periods. Winter and summer emerged as the seasons for which the information is crucial. Winter is the wet season for most countries of the area, and is also the season when water reservoirs are filled. Summer is important especially for energy demand and water management. However, it has been also remarked that a continuous (monthly) up-date of the forecasts would be extremely useful and advisable. Some cross-boundary issues were also highlighted, such as, for example, those related to river discharges and their impacts on water management. Cross-regional issues appeared less evident, but it was highlighted that they could emerge later in the course of the MedCOF activity process.

All participants agreed on that, due to the fact that hydrological information is strongly linked to climate information, both components should be taken together in the future RCOF for the region. Among others the following proposals were discussed and pointed out as relevant for MedCOF: i) some information on observation/climate monitoring from past season(s) -since this will be useful also for drought detection- should be incorporated to the consensus outlook statement; ii) a common climate/hydrological approach would help to forecast events and issue outlooks where both atmospheric and hydrological aspects are relevant; iii) specific hydrological information should still be handled at local (national) level.

Regarding the organization of work in MedCOF, it was agreed to emphasize the need of a strong coordination between the existing RCOFs in the region and in parallel with MedCOF. The frequency of the sessions was acknowledged to be limited by the availability of funding. However, two sessions –for winter and summer seasons- were envisaged and considered the minimum number for an operational RCOF, being at least one of them face-to-face and the other one on-line. As required to all RCOFs, they will incorporate within its core activities sessions devoted to training and interaction with users. Among the basic working material for each forum were mentioned: i) monthly bulletins generated by RCCs with responsibility on long range forecasting; ii) model outputs from global producing centres; iii) additional material such as downscaled forecasts and empirical based predictions; iv) verification. The outlook statement produced as main deliverable from each forum session will include: i) state of ocean and other climate drivers for the region, ii) probabilistic (possibly tercile-based) forecast of temperature, precipitation and hydrological relevant variables for the MedCOF domain, iii) information on climate monitoring since the previous season, iv) verification of the last forecasted period.

In the current context of economic and financial crisis, it was considered important and strongly encouraged to design a scheme to present conveniently this initiative, highlighting the synergetic and cooperation aspects of MedCOF. In this regard, it was recommended to establish links with MEDARE and ECAD to share observational data within the RCOF frame. Both data sources can be used for estimating the Mediterranean climatology -which constitutes a first prediction- and for statistical downscaling tools and validation purposes as well. Shortage of resources reducing the observational networks has an impact on the whole chain of generating and validating seasonal products both at regional and global scales. So far there are a number of existing initiatives and networks to establish a dialogue with other stakeholders such as climate change bureaus, relevant European projects such as EUPORIAS or SPECS, etc. In addition, some other initiatives already supported by WMO, such as HyMex, should be taken into account, not to mention GFCS. Nevertheless, there is a lack of initiatives on the North African side, and in this regard, the RCOF could be a way to enhance cooperation with these countries and a way to obtain support for this sub-region from WMO, green or adaptation funds, or the EU. Some bilateral N-S trans-Mediterranean relations should be used to reinforce MedCOF.

To ensure that the implementation phase of MedCOF moves forward, a proper governance structure should be put in place and a small management team, adequately representing the Mediterranean region and the related climate organisations, was considered a valid proposal. For piloting the set up phase, it was decided to nominate an Interim Management Team (IMT), with a mandate not clearly established because of its temporary nature but expected to report to the next MedCOF session. The composition of IMT would include a representative from RA VI and RA I RCCs, from the two COFs (SEECOF and PRESANORD) currently running in the region and from a future possible South Western Europe COF. Final proposal for the IMT over this interim process was as follows:

    • Ernesto Rodríguez-Camino, AEMET (interim chair)
    • Jean Pierre Céron, RCCs RA VI
    • Ashraf Zakey, PRESANORD
    • Branko Bijelic, SEECOF
    • Fatima Driouech, RCCs RA I
    • Silvio Gualdi, South Western Europe representative
    • WMO (to be appointed by the WMO SG)
    • ACMAD (pending consultation)

Tasks for this IMT would be to prepare the first MedCOF meeting, to prepare a proposal of Terms of Reference for IMT and to prepare any relevant document as needed according the outcomes of the Scoping Meeting.

Among others the following sources of funding were identified during the discussions: i) contribution in kind from the NMHS; ii) WMO under request and on a case by case basis; iii) COST action; iv) ClimDev funding through ACMAD. The IMT will further investigate the feasibility of the above mentioned sources and explore additional ones.

Communication among partners, with users and eventually to media will be based on a web page which AEMET has offered to host. The structure and initial contents of this site will be discussed within the IMT. It was considered very important to learn from the experience of the already existing sub-regional COFs, especially from SEECOF. The MedCOF web page will have links to SEECOF and PRESANORD sites and other tools such as wikis from relevant RCCs. Interactions with end-users should not be directly addressed by MedCOF but better through the existing COFs, NMHSs (and partners). It was also emphasized that NMHSs should play a key role in bringing the benefits of climate outlooks to the different categories of end-users. In this sense, it was considered essential a close coordination with GFCS. To develop a general communication strategy was also seen as a priority task aiming not only at publicizing MedCOF activities and products but also for attracting experts and linking with stakeholders.

There also was an agreement on issuing outlook statements with simple and clear forecast messages in one language (English) to be later translated literally by countries to their own languages. Forecast messages from MedCOF have to be agreed, though sub-regional COFs can further adapt and refine them, avoiding any kind of contradiction. It was deemed important to maximize the spread of the outlook statements as a way to enhance the MedCOF visibility. The creation of a leaflet advertising the objectives and outputs of MedCOF was also discussed and accepted.

It was agreed to have the first MedCOF meeting in November and the option of holding it together the SEECOF meeting in Belgrad will be examined by the IMT. As second option AEMET will consider the feasibility of hosting it.

Finally, it was decided to send this document of conclusions to the Presidents of WMO RA I and RA VI, the RA I and RA VI WG on Climate matters and the corresponding RCCs. Furthers steps to formalize the designation of MedCOF will be on hands of both Presidents of WMO RA I and RA VI.


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