Regional Climate Outlook Forums : Concept
Towards the end of 1997 two important climate-related events occurred that helped define the immediate future of climate science and its management. One was the record-breaking El Niño episode, which brought focussed attention and awareness on impacts of climate variability and of the developing capabilities of forecast systems to assist in managing these impacts. The second was the holding of the first series of Regional Climate Outlook Forums (RCOFs) in southern Africa. Coincidence is the only reason that these events happened contemporaneously, but the occurrence of the El Niño during the first Forum series provided an extra edge to the proceedings. As awareness of the likelihood of an El Niño grew throughout 1997 the programme of introducing Forums in other regions of the world was accelerated to provide assistance during the period of the event. The benefits gained through the Forums during the El Niño period were well demonstrated at a review meeting in October 2000 called to examine the progress of the Forums and to consider future developments in the process.
The CLIPS project made an important contribution towards the development and examination of the Forums, alongside collaborators from the World Bank, the NOAA OGP (Office of Global Programs), the IRI (International Research Institute for Climate and Society), the European Commission, and many NMHSs and other organisations. The Forum process promoted the recognition in many parts of the world that short-range climate predictions could be of substantial benefit in adapting to and mitigating climate variations. One important aspect of the Forums is the facility to bring together experts in various fields, local meteorologists and end users of forecasts in an environment that encourages interaction and learning. This aspect of the Forums blended well with the objectives of the CLIPS project, capacity building being one of the key tasks.
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