Developments and prospects in synoptic climatology



Developments in synoptic climatology in the 1990s included advances in traditional synoptic climatology, empirical downscaling, and dynamical downscaling (i.e. regional climate modelling). The research emphasis in traditional, empirical–statistical approaches to synoptic climatology shifted from methodological development to applications of widely accepted classification techniques, including manual, correlation-based, eigenvector-based, compositing and indexing schemes. In contrast, most efforts in empirical downscaling, which became a well-established field of synoptic climatology during the 1990s, were directed to model development; applications were of secondary concern. Similarly, regional climate models (RCMs) burst onto the scene during the decade and focused on model development, although important progress was made in linking or coupling RCMs to regional or local surface climate systems. This paper discusses prospects for the future of traditional synoptic climatology, empirical downscaling and regional climate modelling. It concludes by looking at the present role of geographic information system (GIS) concepts in synoptic climatology and the potential future role of GIS to the field. Copyright © 2001 Royal Meteorological Society