CCl OPACE 2 Expert Team on National Climate Monitoring Products


John Kennedy (lead)1, Lucie Vincent (co-lead)2, Jessica Blunden3, Karl Braganza4, Ladislaus Chang'a5, Kenji Kamiguchi6 Andrea Ramos7

1 UK Met Office, 2 Environment Canada, 3 NOAA National Climatic Data Center, 4 National Climate Centre Bureau of Meteorology, Australia 5Tanzania Meteorological Agency, 6 Climate Prediction Division, Global Environment and Marine Department, Japan Meteorological Agency 7 Instituto Nacional de Meteorologia (INMET)


Currently, a wide variety of climate monitoring products are produced around the world and there are many inconsistencies between the methods used by different countries. The inconsistencies make comparisons difficult, or impossible.

Even simple differences such as the choice of the base period for calculating anomalies, or the length of available records can make it difficult to interpret differences from one country to the next. For example, the "warmest year on record" is newsworthy if the record is 200 years long, but less so if only 5 years of data are available.

The main aim of the task team is to generate a short list of standard national climate monitoring products that can be produced consistently by most countries. The requirement to be inclusive, to allow more countries to participate, places certain practical constraints on what can be recommended.

The team is defining how those products would be created so that comparing a national monitoring product from one country with that of another would be an "apples with apples" comparison.

The list would allow countries with few resources to focus their efforts on those products which would be widely used and enable them to participate in global monitoring activities such as the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society's State of the Climate reports.

What is a national climate monitoring product?

It is perhaps best to show by example what a national climate monitoring product is. Examples might include annual and decadal mean temperature from Australia, annual precipitation from the UK or a composite extremes index from the US. These are relatively complex creations, but a national climate monitoring product might be as simple as the maximum temperature recorded in the country during the year, or month, or the onset date of the seasonal rains at a particular location. Derived products are also possible based on these products such as temperature rankings e.g. in Australia, 2005 was the warmest year on record.

Shortlist of National Climate Monitoring Products

The preliminary list of NCMPs for which the Expert Team is generating detailed specifications are as follows:

  1. Mean temperature anomaly averaged over the country
  2. Total precipitation as a percentage of the normal, averaged across the country
  3. Standardised precipitation index, averaged across the country
  4. Number of days in the month when Tmax exceeded the 90th percentile, average across the country
  5. Number of days in the month when Tmin was below the 10th percentile, average across the country
  6. Count of stations which broke maximum and minimum temperature and daily precipitation records

Anomalies and standardization are to be calculated using a 1981-2010 baseline.

Terms of Reference

  1. Develop the specifications of the newly defined National Climate Monitoring Products (NCMPs), including for their provision and the associated software requirements, and develop guidance for their operational production and dissemination;
  2. Conduct an assessment of the existing capabilities for national climate monitoring, including through surveys and workshops;
  3. Collaborate with other groups such as the relevant CBS teams regarding the creation, coding, implementation and the exchange of NCMPs, obtain feedback on NCMP implementation from suitable points of contact in NMHSs, and liaise with World Data Centres as appropriate on scientific and technical guidance;
  4. Collaborate with ETCCDI to assess the feasibility of, and provide –if appropriate- a methodology for, combining RClimDex with appropriate gridding software to develop a unified NCMP software package suitable for use on routine basis by the NMHSs.

Focal points


Guidance and comments

Software manual


Meeting Melbourne 20-22 September 2016

Meeting Marrakech 15-17 September 2015

The expert team met in Marrakech and, amongst other discussions, finalised a survey which will be sent to NHMSs to determine the existing capabilities and needs for producing NCMPs. The survey will be attached to a letter asking NHMSs to nominate a focal point for the production of NCMPs. The specification of the first 5 NCMPs was refined and a workable definition of the 6th NCMP was produced.



Lists of National Climate Monitoring Products

John Kennedy maintains a list of monitoring resources including links to regular monitoring reports and products produced by NMHS.


Page maintained by John Kennedy