Regional Climate Outlook Forums (RCOFs) are the major component of WMO Climate Information and Prediction Services (CLIPS) project activities. First established in 1996 at a Meeting in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, RCOFs gained momentum as a regional response to the major 1997–1998 El Niño event. RCOF Concept was pioneered in Africa and spread worldwide. WMO and a number of national, regional and international organizations (e.g., NOAA, IRI, MeteoFrance, World Bank, etc.) have supported their growth and expansion.
Climate information including predictions/outlooks could be of substantial benefit to many parts of the world in adapting to and mitigating the impacts of climate variability and change. RCOFs across the world have the overarching responsibility to produce and disseminate a regional assessment (using a predominantly consensus-based approach) of the state of the regional climate for the upcoming season.
Built into the RCOF process is a regional networking of the climate service providers and user-sector representatives. Participating countries recognize the potential of climate prediction and seasonal forecasting as a powerful development tool to help populations and decision-makers face the challenges posed by climatic variability and change.
National and Regional capacities are varied but certainly inadequate to face the task alone. Ownership now lies largely with national and regional players, but there is a continuing need for support at all levels to ensure that the momentum gained to date is maintained. RCOFs bring together national, regional and international climate experts, on an operational basis, to produce regional climate outlooks based on input from NMHSs, regional institutions, Regional Climate Centers (RCCs) and Global Producing Centers of long range forecasts (GPCs) and other climate prediction centers.
Through interaction with sectoral users, extension agencies and policy makers, RCOFs assess the likely implications of the outlooks on the most pertinent socio-economic sectors in the given region and explore the ways in which these outlooks could be made use of. RCOFs also review impediments to the use of climate information, experiences and successful lessons regarding applications of the past RCOF products, and enhance sector-specific applications. These RCOFs then lead to national forums to develop detailed national-scale climate outlooks and risk information including warnings for communication to decision-makers and the public.
The RCOF process comprise the following:
- Meetings of the regional and international climate experts to develop a consensus for the regional climate outlook, typically in a probabilistic form.
- The Forum proper, that involves both climate scientists and representatives from the user sectors, for identification of impacts and implications, and the formulation of response strategies.
- Training programs on seasonal climate prediction to strengthen the capacity of the national and regional climate scientists.
- Special outreach sessions involving sector specialists as well as media experts to develop effective communications strategies.
For the success of the process it is important to determine the critical time for development of climate prediction for the region in question. It is crucial to assemble a group of specialists on: (i) Large scale prediction, (ii) regional and local climate applications and prediction/downscaling, and (iii) stakeholders representatives of climate-sensitive sectors.
The specialists review current large scale (global and regional) climate anomalies and the most recent predictions for their evolution. They further review current climate conditions and their impacts at local, national and regional levels, and national-scale predictions. Considering all factors, specialists produce a climate outlook with related output (e.g. maps of temperature and precipitation anomalies) that will be applied and fine-tuned by NMHSs in the region to meet national needs. Discussion on possible applications of the outlook and related climate information to climate-sensitive sectors in the region and consideration of practical products for development by NMHSs are also important part of the process.
At the end, strategies for effective communication of information to decision-makers in all affected sectors are developed and steps required to further improve the process for subsequent sessions are suggested.
The RCOF process has facilitated a better understanding of the links between the climate system and socio-economic activities. An increasing demand for climate services has been recorded in many parts of the world as a result of these developments. Awareness has been created that climate information, including short-range climate predictions, is an essential element in mitigating against the impacts of climate variations. RCOFs have fostered interactions and exchange of information between the climate scientists and users of climate information.
Climate Change and RCOFs
RCOFs worldwide have been set up so far with the main focus on seasonal prediction. However, the same RCOF mechanisms can be effectively expanded to cater to the needs of developing and disseminating regional climate change information products. Such initiatives are already being taken up by some RCOFs (e.g., Greater Horn of Africa). Regional assessments of observed and projected climate change, including the development of downscaled climate change scenario products for impact assessments, can be included in the product portfolio of RCOFs
RCOFs have been recognized to have potential contributions to the UNFCCC/SBSTA Nairobi Work Program (NWP) on Adaptation to Climate Change. CLIPS/RCOFs have been included in the UNFCCC Compendium of Methods and Tools in support of climate adaptation. RCOFs form a core component of WMO Action Pledge to the NWP on climate information, products and services for adaptation.
South East Europe Climate Outlook Forum (SEECOF)
First RCOF in Europe (SEECOF-I) held in Zagreb, Croatia, in June 2008. The second RCOF (SEECOF-II) took place in Budapest, Hungary, in 2009. The countries participating in SEECOFs are: Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, the FY Republic of Macedonia, Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Rumania, Moldova, Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan.
SEECOF-I Consensus Seasonal Outlook
Since the 1980s, summers in the South-Eastern European (SEE) region have frequently been hotter than in previous decades. The 2008 summer season is likely to be more similar to some of the hot summers of recent decades than to those of the generally cooler 1960s and 1970s. A hot summer brings risk of heat waves and their associated impacts, but given the information available it is not possible at this stage to make any specific statement about the risk of heat waves in 2008.
Unlike temperatures, there have been no region-wide trends in summer rainfall in SEE. There is currently little agreement among available predictions of summer rainfall for 2008, but there is some suggestion that the eastern part of the region will be drier than average, while the western part will be wetter than average.
SEECOF 8 Seasonal Climate Outlook for Winter 2012/2013
SEECOF 7 Seasonal Climate Outlook for Summer 2012
SEECOF 6 Seasonal Climate Outlook for Winter 2011/2012
SEECOF 5 Seasonal Climate Outlook for Summer 2011
SEECOF 4 Seasonal Climate Outlook for Winter 2010/2011
SEECOF 3 Seasonal Climate Outlook for Summer 2010
SEECOF 2 Seasonal Climate Outlook for Winter 2009/2010
SEECOF 1 Seasonal Climate Outlook for Summer 2009