WateXr | Early career researcher Workshop on seasonal forecasting at University of Cantabria
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Early career researcher Workshop on seasonal forecasting at University of Cantabria

Early career researcher Workshop on seasonal forecasting at University of Cantabria

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As part of our activities to foster a collaborative environment at WATExR, we organize dedicated workshops for early career researchers on transversal topics fundamental to all case studies. It cannot be otherwise, our first one was on seasonal climate prediction with our climate forecasting experts at University of Cantabria…

By Muhammed Shikhani (UFZ-Magdeburg)

I would sooner be a foreigner in Spain than in most countries. How easy it is to make friends in Spain!”
George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia

Although it was a workshop to implement part of the WATExR project regarding interacting with seasonal forecasting formats and application to impact models, my personal decision was to make the most out of my visit and also to visit ICRA to interact with the group there.

The trip:

The challenge brought up by comrades Andrew French and Tadgh Moore was accepted, it will be a train ride with no foot in the air. The ride was a 5100 km in total using 14 trains back and forth as in Figure 1. In fact such long trips give time for some laptop work and literature readings, beside the environmental befits and the possibility to see the landscape. Moreover, I find the train rides less stressful when it comes to boarding times and the easiness in accessibility to the train stations. I should admit here that the trip taken by Andrew and Tadgh from Ireland to Magdeburg was inspiring and it demonstrated the feasibility of it and the advantages of such train rides. So far I am enjoying the title of WATExR champion of train rides.

Figure 1. The trip rout over 5100 km from Germany to Spain through France, https://www.maps.ie/map-my-route/

Figure 2 shows the difference in the impact using different means of transports, for one ride, which is from Santander to Magdeburg, using the exact same connection I took. It is clear how much co2 can be saved and that is only one trip out of three I made. The WATExR family were very much behind the decision of using railways even for the longer stretches, my tradition was never to let the WATExR family down.

Figure 2 the comparison of the impact of a single trip that were taken for this trip and the advantage of the railway http://ecopassenger.hafas.de/bin/query.exe/en?L=vs_uic

The cities:

On the 3rd of April I arrived to Girona armed with a nonexistent Spanish and a massive bag pack, kind of a recipe to get lost. But the minute I asked about directions, I was showered with answers and taken by hand to the nearest bus stop, in Barcelona Street. The bus driver was trying his best to communicate with me in English.

My arrival to ICRA was well celebrated starting the security at the door, to Rafa who picked me up. The atmosphere working with ICRA team was quite cordial, which made my preparations for the next workshop a very happy time . Walking with Rafa, Daniel, and Gosia from ICRA to the downtown included intensive talks about the Mediterranean region streams regime, the climate variability, the floods vulnerability and the reservoirs around. Even when we walked up to the cathedral in the top of the world, there was much input.

The walks with Gosia, Rafa, Daniel made the city somehow kind of home, the narrow cobbling stones alleys, and the doors knockers that looked like my home, the lights of the city in the night and the smell of history in the streets.

Santander delivered to me the same amount of beauty and charm. While I was desperately trying to get from place A to B, the generosity of the people was overwhelming, almost embarrassing kind of generosity everywhere. Deiced to even go extremer in reducing my co2 print, I was walking the 50 minutes every day from my hotel to the university, which included climbing a considerable amount of stairs. The sites from the city side were charming.

I had the delight of sharing the mandatory group coffee breaks of the entire team, which was such a convivial activity, as well as the mega sized lunches.

Figure 5. University of Cantabria, Faculty of civil engineering where the workshop took place
Figure 6. The Charm of Santander

The workshop

Santander was more hands-on tools workshop, but there was always time to get a glimpse of the city. The comrades in university of Cantabria, in addition to their great hospitality, provided excellent infrastructure for the participants, offices and conferences room and direct technical support on spot. They made sure that the Climate4R package functionalities and provided us with excessive amounts of cookies and tea, which make very good conditions for young researchers’ productivity and growth.

The comrades in UC made some sessions for the theoretical background of the seasonal forecasting, the most essential tool in the project, explaining both the downscaling and bias correction for one season and another session for the evolution and statistical inference of the seasonal forecasting and the possible ways for visualization.

To ensure that everyone was able to reproduce the tercile plots and has the entire dataset for at least one season to ensure that applicability of the seasonal forecasting, the UC colleagues were minute to minute with us supporting the entire process till all the participants were able to smoothly download the data. Moreover, they did not only helped us in responding to the errors, but also explained to us the source of the error in order to avoid the same practice in the future. Even the IT personnel were on spot to make sure we had no difficulties.

Having all these grasped, the troop started to work on the application of the workshop content and the previous experiences, which led to a final day extremely productive and fun group coding session using the projector, where everyone added his touch to the freakish code we wrote. This was a true highlight of cooperation and working in harmony, thanks to the comrades Tadgh, Daniel, and Gosia.

Figure 7. Group coding session applying seasonal forecast to impact models
Figure 8. Group coding session applying seasonal forecast to impact models

The workshop was essential for the application of the seasonal forecast to the case studies, and at the end many interesting ideas emerged from the step-in in understanding the seasonal forecasting functionality, limitations and potential. Which I think that interacting between young researchers of the several research groups is vital for such group projects.

Finally, the 5100 km challenge is now open for anyone!

P.S. I lost the olives of Rafa in Paris whole changing trains, hopefully I will have my hand on new ones.