Consensus-driven predictions and outlooks
Regional Climate Outlook Forums (RCOFs)
Creating a climate forecast is not an easy task, and not all countries have the technology or capacity to create the valuable climate predictions and outlooks. For this reason, among others, in the late 1990’s the WMO, National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs), regional institutions, and other international organizations initiated an innovative process known as the Regional Climate Outlook Forum (RCOF).
The forums bring together the experts from regions which are climatologically similar and provide consensus-based climate predictions and information. The information is usually based on the season which has the highest socio-economic significance. This information has been applied to reducing climate-related risks and supporting sustainable development. Such forums now exist in many regions across the world indicated in the map to the right.
These forums 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 Centres (RCCs) and global producers of climate predictions. By bringing together countries with common climatological characteristics, the forums ensure consistency in the access to, and interpretation of, climate information. 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 ways these outlooks could be used.
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.
In many regions, the users benefiting from the RCOFs are true stakeholders, contributing to the organization and growth of the sessions, thus ensuring their sustainability and applicability to meeting user needs. Typically, RCOFs attract the participation of practitioners and decision-makers from sectors including:
Other sectors such as tourism, transportation, urban planning, etc. are increasingly involved.
Based on the needs of specific sectors, specialized, sector-oriented outlook forums, such as the Malaria Outlook Forums (MALOFs) are being held in conjunction with RCOFs in Africa.RCOFs are in operation in many parts of the world, mainly serving developing countries. These are:
Regional Climate Change and RCOFs
RCOFs were originally conceived to focus on seasonal prediction, and have significantly contributed to adaptation to climate variability. The concept has the potential to be extended to develop our capacity to adapt to climate change. RCOFs can be effectively expanded to cater to the needs of developing and disseminating regional climate change information products. This concept is already being tested by some RCOFs (e.g. GHACOF).
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. This potential has already been recognized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Subsidiary Body on Science and Technology Advice (SBSTA), and constitutes a key element of WMO’s contribution to the Nairobi Work Programme on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change.
[More in depth information] Products produced by The Regional Climate Outlook Forums can be found on the RCOFs website.
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