Met Office can now forecast winter weather one year into the future

'This is an exciting first step in developing useful climate predictions on longer timescales'

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The Independent Online

The Met Office can now predict winter weather one year into the future. 

In a new paper, Scientists announced significant advancements in their capacity to read the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), an air pressure gradient which dictates the kind of winter Europe and North America will experience.  

The Met Office said the advancement could lead to “significant economic benefits” including for transport and public service sectors which will now know how much grit to buy each winter. 

“This is an exciting first step in developing useful winter climate predictions on longer timescales,” said Dr Nick Dunstone, the Met Office's lead author.

“Understanding and predicting the changes in the North Atlantic Oscillation could have significant economic benefits including potential boosts in climate services for a range of sectors including transport, energy, water management and the insurance industry.”

The Met Office’s advancement was made possible by a new supercomputer, which allowed scientists to review patterns in previous forecasts from 1980 onwards. 

Scientists found that with the use of the computer they could make predictions with 62% accuracy, with current forecasts for winter 2016 looking promising so far. 

Last year, seasonal forecasts showed a high risk of storms and very wet conditions from as early as October or November, explained professor Adam Scaife, co-author and head of the Met Office’s Monthly to Decadal Prediction.

“This year is different: current signals suggest that the start to winter is likely to be cooler and drier than in 2015,” he said. 

The paper, Skilful predictions of the winter North Atlantic Oscillation one year ahead, was published on Tuesday in the journal Nature Geoscience, part of a wider research piece focussing on the link between the NAO and winter variability in China.