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Meet our Experts: Silje Sørland

Silje is a researcher at NORCE based in Bergen and is participating in work package 2 in CONFER, which focuses on climate modelling.

Tell me a bit about your role at NORCE and the Bjerknes Centre. 

I started as a researcher at NORCE in November 2020, and I am currently part of CONFER, Climate Futures and Norsk Kilimaservicesenter. I have a PhD in meteorology, and my research has in the past been related to numerical weather and climate prediction. At NORCE I am currently analyzing model output which is produced through large international collaborations (such as monthly and seasonal forecasts, or regional climate projections). It is great that there exist all these international collaborations that produce these weather and climate data and share it with the public, and it should not be underestimated how much work lies behind such an effort. I find it extremely exciting to work with these data together with different users/stakeholders and investigate how we can best use them to be best prepared for the future.  

Why are you excited about the CONFER project and what do you think it could achieve? 

I find it rewarding and meaningful to collaborate with researchers at ICPAC and other institutes that are part of CONFER, to improve the understanding of how we can provide more reliable seasonal forecasts for East- Africa. Those countries are much more vulnerable to climate variability and changes since they do not have the same recourses, infrastructure, or early warning systems as we have here in Norway. So, it is extremely important to provide reliable weather and climate information so that the users can trust the predictions and then be better prepared. Reaching out to the relevant users that can benefit from getting these seasonal predictions is a challenge. But this is the main advantage with CONFER, which has a large focus on the co-production side.  

What is your specific role in CONFER? 

I am in Work Package 2, where I am part of the task related to ensemble design, which is related to how the seasonal forecasts are produced (i.e. from dynamical and statistical predictions and the method used to combine these predictions to a consistent seasonal forecast). I have had to spend some time during the first year of CONFER to understand the methodology behind the seasonal forecasts for Eastern Africa. ICPAC has been issuing seasonal forecasts for more than two decades now, so they are the experts on this and have built up a methodology to produce seasonal forecasts three times per year. We are now investigating whether we can improve the seasonal predictions by using other methods (e.g., using different models, statistical predictors, or dynamical downscaling)