Hartmut Grassl

17.1 Introduction

The World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) is the research component of the World Climate Programme (WCP). Soon after the launch of WCP at the First World Climate Conference in Geneva in 1979, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the International Council for Scientific Unions (now called International Council for Science) (ICSU) agreed in 1980 on cosponsorship of WCRP. In 1993, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO joined WMO and ICSU as the third cosponsor of WCRP. This unique sponsoring structure has attracted both the scientific community and national meteorological, hydrological, and oceanographic services. Therefore, WCRP has developed into a global research program encompassing all those parts that need international climate research cooperation and coordination for a successful outcome.

17.2 The Overall Goal

WCRP has a clearly set goal: "To understand and predict - to the extent possible - climate variability and change, including human influences." In reaching this overall goal, WCRP must

• Design and implement observational and diagnostic research activities that will lead to a quantitative understanding of significant climate processes;

• Develop global models capable of simulating the present and past climate and -to the extent possible - of predicting climate variations on a wide range of space and time scales, including the effects of human influences.

In practice, these tasks arc executed by obeying a few principles for WCRP activities:

• Add value to climate research in general by international coordination of national research programs.

• Formulate science and implementation plans for projects that need global cooperation for success.

• Implement subprojccts only if enough scientists are engaged and additional funding is secured.

• Assess progress regularly (once per year) by an independent scientific advisory body (Joint Scientific Committee) selected jointly by all sponsors.

• Liaise with the users from the beginning. That is, cooperate with numerical weather predictions centers, national meteorological and hydrological services, cli-matc anomaly prediction centers, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), environmental conventions of the United Nations, water resources managers, and so on.

• Integrate operational observation networks, new research observation networks, data management, process (field) studies, modeling and prediction, and applications in each project.

17.3 Present Structure

WCRP concentrates on the understanding of the physical parts of the climate system. However, chemical and biological processes arc included if essential to an understanding of the climate processes on the time scales of major interest for a specific project. This is done in close cooperation with the respective projects of the International Geosphere Biosphere Programme (IGBP). As shown in Table 17.1, all climate system components and their interactions are at present part of WCRP projects, and it has been our strategy to limit the number and size of our projects. One earlier project has already been finalized, and two others arc nearing completion. It is interesting to note that three projects were first discussed outside, but soon became WCRP projects: Tropical Ocean/Global Atmosphere (TOGA), World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE), and Stratospheric Processes and Their Role in Climate

The WCRP modeling infrastructure is often not seen as being as prominent or important as the projects. However, it is through the Working Group on Numerical Experimentation (WGNE) that we liaise with weather prediction centers, which improve forecasting through new parameterizations of climate processes derived from field experiments. The same holds for climate variability predictions; the Working Group for Coupled Modeling (WGCM) helps improve these predictions, for example, through model intercomparisons.

17.4 Achievements

The successes of WCRP arc crowned by the breakthrough to climate anomaly predictions on seasonal-to-intcrannual time scales, mainly for the areas strongly affected by the El Niño southern oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon. Table 17.2 highlights some of the achievements so far. In all projects, progress rests first on new observing systems and new combinations of existing systems and then on the use of models validated by the new data sets.

Table 17.2. Achievements of WCRP Projects

Project or Group Duration

Main Achievements) So Far

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