In February 2010, after active discussions over a number of years within the climate science community, the Met Office proposed the development of such a record at a WMO Commission for Climatology meeting in Turkey. The meeting endorsed this proposal and this workshop is the initial meeting and invitations have been extended to the international community to work together in developing and delivering this ambitious goal.
The International Organising Committee is chaired by Peter Thorne and consists of scientists from a range of disciplines; among them statistics, scientific measurement, modelling, IT experts and economics.
Peter Thorne explains the aims and aspirations of the workshop taking place this week.
Earlier this year, Nature published an article written by Peter Stott of the Met Office and Peter Thorne of the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites, explaining the rationale behind the proposal and how it might work – see http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/conference/surftemp/SurfTempWorkshop_background_report.pdf.
The workshop follows international recognition of the emerging requirement in recent years for a more comprehensive temperature record. The initiative taken by the UK Met Office in its specific call to World Meteorological Organization (WMO) means it is accordingly co-sponsored by WMO Commission for Climatology, the World Climate Research Program, and the Global Climate Observing System.
The aims of the workshop are to create an agreed international framework to move forwards. As yet that framework is not certain and it would be wrong to pre-determine outcomes but the key over-arching aims are likely to be:
- Improved databank of raw data with better sampling in space and time, better station history information and version control.
- A suite of verifiable datasets from that databank meeting certain minimum scientific requirements that are independently produced.
- Fundamental assumptions need to be questioned.
- Creation of a consistent set of test cases against which to assess the datasets and a consistent benchmarking exercise.
- Creation of tools to use and analyse the data to support decision making.
- The workshop is an exercise in climate science openness and is truly international with every effort made to gain input in advance from non-participants.
In this initiative surface temperatures are the focus but it is important to recognise that further variables need to be considered at a later stage. Temperature alone is not climate and this represents the start of a much broader effort to better characterise the observational record to meet 21st Century societal requirements.