wcrp cordex logoThe CORDEX vision is to advance and coordinate the science and application of regional climate downscaling through global partnerships.



CORDEX: The science that underpins future climate change policy

The Conference of Parties (COP) 21 in Paris in December 2015 agreed on a global effort to limit global warming to below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels. Decision makers want to know the potential impacts of a 2°C global warming for different regions of the globe and different economic sectors. When planning for adaptation, policy makers need to understand the difference between global warming of 2°C and other climate change scenarios? Governments want to know what potential impacts can be prevented if global warming is limited to 2°C? There is a need for climate science to produce reliable and easy-to-understand information to specifically answer these questions.

Predicting future climate change is a complex task, requiring sophisticated numerical models and large teams of experts across many different disciplines. Every year significant improvements are made in high-resolution earth system modelling, to multi-model ensembles of both climate and impact projections and, particularly, in the bias correction of downscaled climate data. The WCRP Coordinated Regional Climate Downscaling Experiment (CORDEX) (http://www.cordex.org/) is working to address science-driven questions related to regional climate projection; identifying, quantifying and delivering high quality, reliable and accessible regional climate information.

impact2cCORDEX information feeds directly into policy-driven research. Take, for example, the IMPACT2C Project, which is a multi-disciplinary and international project providing information and evidence on the impacts of 2°C global warming. IMPACT2C includes model data from high-resolution (12.5 km) Euro-CORDEX (European branch of CORDEX) simulations. One of its outputs is the IMPACT2C web-atlas, which tells visual stories of the potential impacts of climate change with 2°C global warming for key sectors – energy, water, tourism, health, agriculture, ecosystems and forestry, as well as coastal and low-lying areas – at both the pan-European level and for some of the most vulnerable regions of the world to climate change.

IMPACT2C delivers a few key messages regarding our future with global warming of 2°C:

  • There will be large increases in extreme events for Europe, with much larger increases in daily maximum temperature over parts of Southern and South-Eastern, as well as increases in heavy precipitation across all of Europe.
  • It is expected that a global warming of 1.5°C (relative to pre-industrial levels) will be exceeded around or before 2040. In addition, almost all scenarios indicate that 2°C global warming is expected to be exceeded around or earlier than 2060.
  • Rates of climate change are likely to increase in the near future. Historical rates have averaged at just over 0.1°C per decade, but this could potentially increase to between 0.3°C and 0.7°C per decade over the next few decades. As much of Europe warms at a faster rate than the global average, this will mean even higher rates of change for some regions of Europe.

The project also considers the 2°C global warming benchmark as a precautionary level, which is likely to avoid the occurrence of extreme and potentially catastrophic events. These are referred to as tipping points or vulnerability hot spots and key examples are abrupt ice loss from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet or large-scale disintegration of the Greenland Ice Sheet.

The conclusions of IMPACT2C have major implications for possible adaptation strategies on national and international scales. This is the information that governments need to plan for the future and it would not be possible without the science that necessarily underpins it. To find out more about the application of CORDEX information see Daniela Jacob and Claas Teichmann’s presentation on ‘Climate Services in the frame of CORDEX’ (14.00 CEST, Session D1), streamed live (http://www.icrc-cordex2016.org) from Stockholm at the International Conference on Regional Climate (ICRC)-CORDEX 2016.

Flagship Pilot Studies

During the International Conference on Regional Climate - CORDEX 2013, a number of scientific challenges emerged including the need for:

  • More rigorous and quantitative assessment of the added value of regional downscaling;
  • Better understanding of processes and phenomena relevant for regional climate change;
  • A broader and more process-based assessment of downscaling techniques and models;
  • Better integration of Empirical-Statistical Downscaling (ESD) within the CORDEX framework;
  • Moving towards very high resolution, convection permitting models;
  • Development of coupled regional earth system models, in particular including the human component (e.g. urbanization, dams, pollution emissions, adaptation etc.)
  • Assessment of the effects of regional forcing, such as land-use change and aerosols;
  • Distillation of actionable information from multiple sources of downscaled projection information; and
  • Better integration of CORDEX with other WCRP programs (e.g. GEWEX)


It was recognised that addressing these scientific challenges might be problematic within the general CORDEX framework that employs standard sets of simulations for large domains often encompassing entire continents and surrounding regions. The idea thus emerged to develop more targeted experimental setups, called “Flagship Pilot Studies (FPS)”, which would enable the CORDEX communities to better address a number of the challenges outlined above.

The FPS will focus on sub-continental-scale targeted regions, so as to allow a number of capabilities towards addressing key scientific questions motivated by several issues:

  • Run RCMs at a broad range of resolutions, down to convection-permitting;
  • Promote side-by-side experimental design and evaluations of both statistical and dynamical downscaling techniques at scales more typical of VIA applications;
  • Design targeted experiments aimed at investigating specific regional processes and circulations;
  • Investigate the importance of regional scale forcings (aerosols, land-use change, vegetation etc);
  • Compile and use high quality, high resolution (both spatial and temporal), multi-variable observation datasets for model validation and analysis of processes;
  • Coordinate with specific activities in other WCRP projects, most notably the GEWEX regional hydroclimate projects;
  • Design end-to-end, climate-to-end-user, projects demonstrating the actionable value of downscaled climate change projections;
  • Increase the potential for funding by focusing on specific issues of interest for a certain region


In subsequent discussions, the CORDEX Scientific Advisory Team (CORDEX-SAT) recognised that, due to their very nature, FPSs cannot be conceived in general terms but should be driven by the regional CORDEX communities, although sharing common protocols so as to allow easier exchange of know-how. The SAT thus envisions a mechanism of solicitation of FPS proposals to be submitted by the regional communities and assessed by the SAT, with the aid of external experts, for formal CORDEX endorsement. The 'FPS Criteria & Guidelines' document serves to provide guidelines to enable these groups to develop FPS proposals for review and endorsement by the CORDEX SAT according to the criteria listed in the document.

How to submit a FPS proposal

  1. Review the full 'FPS Criteria & Guidelines' document carefully (download here)
  2. Complete the FPS application template (download here)
  3. Submit the completed application to the ipoc@cordex.org



There will be 3 deadlines per year for FPS proposals; 15th February, 15th June and 15th October. The third deadline for applications will be Saturday 15th October 2016 and the successful proposals from this round will be presented at the CORDEX web.



If you have any questions regarding the FPS proposal procedure please send them to ipoc@cordex.org 

EURO-CORDEX General Assembly 2016

EURO-CORDEX annual meeting Jan. 25-28, at the Climate Service Center Germany (GERICS), Hamburg, Germany.

EURO-CORDEX community gathered for its sixth annual meeting in Hamburg, at the Climate Service Center Germany (GERICS). There were vibrant discussions around ongoing research, plans for CORDEX phase 2, Flagships Pilot Studies (FPS) and the internal organization of the EURO-CORDEX community. The week began with two workshops on Monday Jan. 25th. These focused on Empirical Statistical Downscaling (ESD) and Land Use/Cover (LUC), respectively. One of these resulted in an agreement to more closely and explicitly integrate ESD and Climate Information Distillation as core EURO-CORDEX activities, in addition to dynamical downscaling. The LUC workshop lead directly to an initiative to submit a community-wide FPS focused on such issues.

The community also spent some time brainstorming key research themes. These discussions resulted in an extensive and exciting list of research ideas that relate back to both the mini-challenges identified by the CORDEX-Scientific Advisory Team (SAT) and, more generally, to the Grand Challenges put forth by the WCRP

In addition to confirming the community’s’ commitment to fill up the existing experiment matrices they also discussed the feasibility of additional simulations and variety of potential Flagship Pilot Studies. It was decided that the EURO-CORDEX community will submit two FPS applications one of which will be in collaboration with Med-CORDEX.




For further information about the meeting or the community-wide FPS applications contact EURO-CORDEX points of contact Daniela Jacob, Eleni Katragko, Stefan Sobolowski or refer to the EURO-CORDEX website (www.euro-cordex.net).