Mar 8, 2020

Record Winter Warmth Is Raising Pressure on Forecasters

Jonathan Tirone
Bloomberg Green
Climate change is increasing temperatures in all seasons and causing warmer winters
European warmth in Winter 2019-2020. Credit: Copernicus via Bloomberg

Climate Signals Summary: Climate change is increasing temperatures across the globe and causing record winter warmth

Article Excerpt: Record winter warmth around the globe has raised pressure on weather forecasters from utilities and financial markets that depend on models to work out the economic impact of climate change. 

Abnormally high temperatures led to billions of dollars of lost revenue for energy producers, which have curtailed fuel supplies because everyone from homeowners to heavy industry didn’t need as much heat as usual. Europe was particularly affected with temperatures some 3.4 degrees Celsius (6.1 degrees Fahrenheit) above normal. Those extreme variations are sharpening the focus on the systems meteorologists use to predict seasonal patterns weeks or even months in the future.


This year’s unprecedented winter heat was capped last month by the second warmest February on record both in Europe and globally, according to the Copernicus Climate Change Service. The European Union program uses billions of measurements from satellites, ships, aircraft and weather stations around the world for its monthly and seasonal forecasts and found that the current winter is the warmest on record


Copernicus seasonal weather models performed pretty well heading into this winter. Utilities and power producers checking the outlook in November would have seen there was a 70% chance of higher-than-normal temperatures in northern Europe and a 90% probability around the Mediterranean basin. 

“Our models are not perfect but they give you a good indication,” said Troccoli, who runs the Copernicus energy operational service the provides tools to analyse the role that climate plays in energy supply and demand. The seasonal weather model run by Copernicus has been refined over three decades to ensure accuracy to “a pretty good extent,” he said.