A Waste Of Money By NSF and NCAR? Are They Studying The Predictability Of Climate On Decadal Time Scales, Or Are They Just Providing Unverified Predictions To The Impacts Community?

Yesterday, I presented an example, in my view, of the misuse of models to provide climate forecasts decades into the future;

Another Scientifically Flawed Presentation Of Multi-Decadal Regional Climate Predictions – This Time It Is In The Intermountain West Climate Summary

I have also posted extensively on the funding by the National Science Foundation of multi-decadal climate model predictions which are not robust scienficially; e.g. see

The Failure Of Dynamic Downscaling As Adding Value to Multi-Decadal Regional Climate Prediction

In this context, I was sent an announcement concerning a set of jobs at the National Center for Atmospheric Research [NCAR] that involves the application of this (in my view) overreach of what models can provide. NCAR is funded in part by the National Science Foundation (I do not know the source of the funds, however, for this specific set of NCAR positions).

The NCAR announcement reads

From: Greg Holland <gholland@xxx>
Subject: [Tropical-storms] Job openings at NCAR in Regional Climate


We are expanding our regional climate activities with four new
positions, as listed below. Please note that in NCAR parlance
Postgraduate Scientist is what you would normally call Post Doc. Note
also that these include physical and statistical scientists.

Please do not hesitate to contact me or James Done if you have any


Project Scientist:
Associate Scientist:
Postgraduate Scientists:

The decription of the job announcements read [highlight added]

Project Scientist III

Conducts independent research on regional climate with an emphasis on high-impact weather using the NRCM and MPAS models. Supports further development of the MPAS modeling system as a full earth system simulator including data assimilation approaches relevant to decadal climate prediction on regional scales. Designs numerical simulations to investigate high impact weather changes with climate variability and change. Develops and applies novel diagnostic methods for analyzing regional climate model output.

 Interacts with sponsor organizations, government and commercial, in support of research and development projects. Serves as PI or Co-PI on externally-funded proposals that further NCAR goals.

 Authors and co-authors manuscripts for publication in leading peer-reviewed scientific journals. Presents research findings to the scientific community and sponsor organizations at the national and international level.

 Provides scientific expertise and advice on regional climate and particularly its impact on severe weather throughout NCAR and the national and international community. Serves as a subject matter expert on regional climate and severe weather. Reviews articles related topics for academic journals and may serve on national subject committees.

 Supervises and mentors staff and provides indirect supervision for staff and visitors conducting research on a variety of atmospheric phenomena related to regional climate.

Associate Scientist II

Participates in the development of regional climate modeling and data analysis in support of regional climate research at NCAR.

Designs experiments and scripts to test and evaluate regional climate modeling techniques, including testing new code developments and code performance. Conducts multiyear regional climate simulations and performs data analysis.

 Works on coupling and testing of new Earth system components to regional atmospheric model systems including but not limited to ocean and land, atmospheric chemistry and decision support tools.

 Co-authors refereed papers, technical reports and conference papers. Makes presentations at scientific conferences.

 Assists scientific staff and visitors using regional climate models and data analysis. Attends meetings and contributes as a team member to the Regional Climate Research Section.

Postgraduate Scientist

BASIC JOB FUNCTION: Conducts research and develops modeling and analysis techniques in support of regional climate research at NCAR, involving dynamical and statistical regional climate modeling and development of improved decision-support tools for society.


Conducts research in support of regional climate analysis and development with a particular emphasis on precipitation over the U.S. and extreme events including North Atlantic tropical cyclones.

Works with community physical and social scientists to develop decision-support tools for societal groups in parallel with regional climate model development as part of the NSF Earth and Atmospheric System Modeling program at NCAR.

Prepares results for publication in peer-reviewed journals and for presentation at meetings and conferences. Prepares summary reports or project progress reports as needed.

Contributes to the goals of the NESL/MMM program. May assist in the development of funding proposals and contribute to program planning.

Postgraduate Scientist

BASIC JOB FUNCTION: Conducts research into development of new statistical approaches and applications of relevance to regional climate assessment, with a specific emphasis on applications of extreme value theory. This will include working within the overall regional climate and high-impact weather program at NCAR, developing research collaborations with other statistical groups and advising industry and societal partners.


Works independently and as a member of a team to support the research activities of the Regional Climate Research Section. Supports the development and application of advanced statistical techniques and recommends new statistical approaches to aid in the assessment of regional climate from numerical simulations, with a particular emphasis on multi-decadal simulation and prediction of high impact weather. Research will focus on quantifying high-impact weather risk and assessing extreme events including quantifying and communicating uncertainty and understanding the propagation of uncertainty through models.

Collaborates with scientists from NCAR and other institutions on relevant research.

As part of the Regional Climate Research team, attends meetings with partner and supporter organizations in academia, industry and society and present results on relevant research.

Conducts, presents and publishes results of personal research. Participates in national and international conferences, workshops and symposia.

Now, I am not certain that these individuals would provide regional climate predictions as the main function. Perhaps they will focus on the assessment of decadal predictability, as I discussed in my post

The Difference Between Prediction and Predictability – Recommendations For Research Funding Related to These Distinctly Different Concepts

In that post, I wrote

While the quantiative assessment of predictability is worthy of funding by the National Science Foundation, and other such funding agencies in the United States and elsewhere,  the production of multi-decadal climate predictions of regional impacts, whose skill cannot be verified until decades from now, are a waste of the available funds for research. A bottom-up, resource assessment of vulnerabilities, even without predictive skill  (i.e. see

A Way Forward In Climate Science Based On A Bottom-Up Resourse-Based Perspective)

is a much more scientifically robust approach.

In terms of Greg Holland’s, whether he studies quantitatively predictability, or, instead, focuses on decadal predictions to provide to the impacts community, should be an issue that is closely followed by those who manage and are funding this effort.  

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