Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER) Awarded Contract to Improve NOAA’s Seasonal Climate Forecast System

Environmental Research and Risk Consultancy Firm Collaborates with NOAA to Identify Better Approaches to Predict Seasonal Weather

Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER) announced today that it has been selected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to help advance the agency’s Climate Forecast System (CFS) and improve its ability to predict seasonal weather patterns in the United States.

The goals of the research are to better understand climate predictability and improve NOAA’s operational climate forecasts. Operational long-range climate forecasts of temperature and precipitation are made several months in advance and depend partially on the outputs of complex computer applications called global climate models (GCMs).

The collaborative research project will provide new insights into the capabilities and limitations of existing climate models to simulate and predict seasonal weather conditions. The scientists will benchmark how well the current state-of-the-art global climate models simulate the impact of key factors on winter weather predictions in the Northern Hemisphere. The climate models that will be examined include the Climate Forecast System of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) as well as those that will be used to develop the fifth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC-AR5).

Current climate models demonstrate a strong ability to predict seasonal weather patterns in warm and tropical regions by using climate factors such as El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO). However, the factors that influence weather in warmer regions have only limited use as predictors for high-latitude regions such as North America, Europe, and northern Asia.

“NOAA has been the world leader in advancing seasonal forecasts with groundbreaking research on ENSO and its implementation in statistical and dynamical models. We look forward to working with NOAA on this important initiative to enable NOAA’s Climate Forecast System to predict winter climate forecasts more accurately,” said Judah Cohen, Ph.D., group manager of the Climate Analysis Group and Seasonal Forecasting at Atmospheric and Environmental Research. “Over the past five years, we’ve demonstrated that a different set of climate factors — including Eurasian snow cover and its effect on the atmosphere — are more useful predictors than ENSO of the winter temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere outside the tropics. Now we’ll identify the adjustments needed in the climate models to incorporate the snow cover, its effect on the stratosphere and troposphere, and other winter climate predictors, such as land memory effects and weather-climate links.”

“We anticipate the research will help NOAA improve operational climate predictions,” said Arun Kumar, Ph.D., chief of the development branch of the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) in the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) at NOAA. “We want to quantify the sources and limits of predictability of climate variations on intra-seasonal and interannual time scales.”

The research project answers a call for ideas to improve the Climate Forecast System solicited by the Climate Prediction Program for the Americas (CPPA). The research will comprise a joint effort among Judah Cohen of AER, Arun Kumar of NOAA, and research meteorologist Amy Butler, Ph.D., of NOAA. Principal investigator Cohen will lead the research project, titled “Collaborative Research: Analysis of IPCC-AR5 and CFS model simulated stratosphere-troposphere coupling and its links to Eurasian snow cover variability.”

This research project shows NOAA’s continued desire to sponsor further leading-edge ideas that can advance seasonal forecasts beyond what is possible with ENSO alone,” added Cohen.

To support the project goal of refining the NOAA Climate Forecast System, Dr. Cohen will lead the AER team in leveraging three decades of experience in remote sensing and climate science, including more than ten years perfecting AER’s operational seasonal forecast system, sCast™. sCast provides both summer and winter seasonal forecasts to the commercial and government markets. The sCast winter forecast is unique in linking early-season snow cover variations in Siberia to the winter climate in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia via predictive analytics.

About NOAA
NOAA is a scientific agency whose mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment and conserve and manage coastal and marine resources to meet our nation’s economic, social, and environmental needs.

About Atmospheric and Environmental Research
Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER) is a leading environmental research, software, and consulting firm specializing in applying climate science and modeling, weather analytics and risk assessment, satellite remote sensing, and atmospheric research to help solve the real-world challenges of industry and government. AER customers include the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Departments of Defense and Energy, and many of the largest energy, financial services, and insurance companies in the United States. Headquartered in Lexington, Massachusetts, AER was established in 1977 and is a subsidiary of Verisk Analytics. For more information, please visit the company’s website at



Brenda Kelly