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U.S. scientists claim to be capable of predicting climate 16 months forward

(Xinhua)

08:55, September 13, 2011

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) -- Scientists at the University of California Los Angeles campus have announced that they have successfully used new prediction algorithms to forecast climate up to 16 months in advance.

Professor Michael Ghil said in a UCLA news release Friday his team used new prediction algorithms based on matching ocean temperature records with new theories on how long-term climate trends are influenced by short-term weather extremes.

That's twice as far into the future as previously accomplished.

Ghil, a distinguished professor of climate dynamics in the UCLA Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences and senior author of the research, said the new prediction formulas will give climate experts and governments clues about long-term swings in the El Nino/La Nina oscillation in the Pacific Ocean, which drastically affects weather in the Americas, Asia and Australia.

The new forecasting tool uses sea temperatures and has been tested on decades of historical data. The forecasts were then cross-checked against actual climate trends.

The UCLA team also said that their 16-month forecasts were more accurate than previous forecasts that went only 8 months forward.

Ghil emphasized that the forecasting tools are for climate, which is long-range, global patterns, but not for meteorology, which is short-term weather forecasting.

"Certain climate features might be predictable, although not in such detail as the temperature and whether it will rain in Los Angeles on such a day two years from now," said Ghil, who is also a member of UCLA's Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics. "These are averages over larger areas and longer time spans."

The study is currently available online in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) and will be published in an upcoming print edition of the journal.

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