Towards Regional Information to Improve Our Understanding on Weather, Water, and Climate Extreme Events

A –Streams of Thought– contribution by  Caroline Aubry-Wake, Gaby Langendijk, Marisol Osman, Carla Gulizia.

On May 3-5, 40 early careers researchers from 23 different countries grouped together for an in-depth interdisciplinary discussion on generating regional information to improve our understanding of weather, water and climate extreme events. This workshop, organized jointly by the Young Earth System Scientist (YESS) and the Young Hydrologic Society (YHS), took place prior to the 2018 GEWEX Open Science Conference (OSC). The goal of the workshop was to develop a shared ECR vision on challenges and ways forward to enhance the generation of usable regional information for water, weather and climate extremes, and the utility of that information for users, decision makers and other stakeholders. During the three days, the discussions centered on three topics: data sources (conventional and unconventional), scale-interactions and user needs.

On the first day, after an introduction of the workshop, we had our first highlight talk by Peter van Oevelens, the director of International GEWEX Project Office, introducing the role and mission of GEWEX in the international science community. His talk outlined the role of World Climate Research program (WRCP), World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and Global Energy and Water Exchange (GEWEX).

I found it quite useful to get a refresher on all the acronyms and an overview of the different global projects underway for climate and water research across the globe. It proved useful during the conference the following week, where I felt much more at ease following presentations and discussions about these programs. After lunch, Prof. John Pomeroy, Director of the Global Water Futures program, gave a talk highlighting the importance of combining observations and modeling to gain information on the processes at play in the hydrological world. Drawing from multiple examples of mountain and snow hydrology, Prof. Pomeroy explained how intensive field observations can be used to develop models, to increase our understanding of our study environment and to predict future changes.

We then jumped in a yellow school bus and headed into the mountains to visit the Fortress Snow and Climate Observatory. Located in scenic Kananaskis Provincial Park 75 km from Canmore, the Fortress Snow and Climate Observatory is a state-of-the-art network of automated weather stations to investigate cold region mountain hydrology. We learned about the challenges of setting and maintaining an observation network, and the importance of such programs for hydrological and climate studies. This field visit was followed by an evening at the Canmore Brewing Company, where the workshop participants socialized and enjoyed tasty beverages.

On the second day, after an impulse talk by Graeme Stephens – Co-Director of NASA JPL, USA- on the challenges in the science of weather, water and climate extremes, we split the participants into two break-out groups.

For the data sources group, the goal was to explore the usage of conventional and unconventional data and new technologies to provide better weather, water and climate data services. For the second group, the goal was to explore the opportunities to provide the required regional information at appropriate spatial scales for varied user needs. For each group, participants spent the day discussing these topics in the context of water and weather extremes. In these diverse groups, composed of ECRs from different regions, with different expertise and at different stages in their career, the participants brought their own perspective to enrich the discussions. For example, ECRs working on irrigation hydrology, snow precipitation and changing hurricane frequency got to sit together and discuss data challenges and opportunities, how to balance fundamental and user-driven science, and how to bridge the gap between local, regional and global scale research.


To finish the day and enjoy the beautiful setting of the conference location, we split the group in small groups and went for a walk outside to discuss the current state and challenges of the ECR community. We discussed 5 topics: empowering early career scientists from underrepresented groups, involvement in the global community, raising the scientific profile of the ECR communities, engaging community members in the consolidation of the networks and interdisciplinarity. These discussions pointed out the dual purpose for the networks such as YESS and YHS: professional development, to help the transition from student to professional researchers, and promoting ECRs at an international stage, by pushing for a stronger voice and presence of ECRs in the research community. On the third day, the groups came back together to present the results of their discussion and tie them together to present to the GEWEX community at the end of the conference.

After a well-deserved day off on Sunday, all the participants came back to the conference center on the bright and early Monday morning for the beginning to the GEWEX OSC. Discussions moved from the roles of ECRs to our own science projects, and for the rest of the week, we learned and discussed climate, weather and water extremes. Having heard glimpses of everyone’s research during the workshop, it was really nice to now have time to go more in depth into their topics and learn about it. Participating in the workshop exposed us to a larger community – another great role of ECR networks. The group of people I felt comfortable interacting with at meals and breaks expanded from my own research group to all the workshop participants, most of whom I had never met even before.

In addition to presenting our own research during the conference, we also had the opportunity to present the outcomes of the workshop during the plenary session on early career researchers at the GEWEX OSC.

We had a very inspiring and fruitful ECR Workshop and are looking forward to continuing our discussions during the write-up of a white paper, on the challenges and ways forward for regional weather, water and climate information. Keep an eye out towards the end of 2018 to hear the results of our discussions!

This workshop was jointly organized by YESS and YHS in close consultation with the GEWEX OSC Organizing Committee and was kindly supported by WMO, WCRP, and GEWEX OSC Sponsors*. Travel support was provided through direct sponsorship of WMO as well as through the GEWEX OSC and their sponsors.

Please find more information about the workshop here (

*GEWEX OSC sponsors:

About the authors

Caroline Aubry-Wake is a mountain hydrology PhD student at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada based at the Coldwater Laboratory in Canmore and a member of the Canadian Young Hydrologic Society. Gaby Langendijk is a PhD Candidate at Climate Service Center Germany (GERICS) focusing on climate change impacts in urban areas. Marisol Osman and Carle Gulizia are both at the CIMA-CONICET/UBA in Argentina.


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