Joint session of

WMO Global Campus, Review of University Collaboration

 and  SYMET 13 Implementation in  RA I 

28 Oct - 01 Nov, 2019        Cairo, Egypt

1. Background

Regional Climate Outlook Forums (RCOFs) are widely recognized as key elements in the implementation of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) led Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS) at regional and national scale. RCOFs are platforms that bring together national, regional and international climate experts and stakeholders’ representatives from countries with common interests to provide climate predictions based on input from National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs), regional institutions, Regional Climate Centers (RCCs), Global Producing Centers for Long Range Forecasts (GPC-LRF) and other climate prediction centers. Built into the RCOF process is a regional networking of the climate service providers and user-sector representatives. Participating countries recognize the potential of climate prediction and seasonal forecasting as a powerful development tool to help general population and decision-makers face the challenges posed by climatic variability and change.

In different regions the RCOFs have evolved in different ways, based on specific needs, capabilities, and tailored to meet the local conditions. At the same time, in all regions they constitute reliable and authentic sources of high-quality climate information, developed through a cooperative endeavor and on a sustainable basis. In many regions, the users benefiting from the RCOFs are true stakeholders, contributing to the organization of the sessions and evolution of the process, thus ensuring their sustainability, and applicability to meeting user needs.  Following a deep review process started in 2017, RCOFs are transitioning to a more homogenized way of functioning based on extensive use of objectives products combining all sources available of information at seasonal time scale. Also a closer relationship with users and stakeholders is promoted.


2. Mediterranean Climate Outlook Forum:


Launched following the Scoping Meeting held at the State Meteorological Agency of Spain (AEMET) in June 2013, one of the general aims of Mediterranean Climate Outlook Forum (MedCOF) was to strengthen the collaboration among the Mediterranean countries and, in particular, between the WMO Regional Associations (RAs) I and VI in developing capacities for the Climate Services Information System (CSIS) within the GFCS. The rationale for the proposed MedCOF is the following:

  • Optimal exploitation of all available sources of seasonal forecast information.

  • Need of coordinate and agreed response from all involved NMHSs to the increasing demand of seasonal information.

  • Enhance cooperation for a task requiring resources which in many cases is beyond the capabilities of a single NMHS.

  • Organize training activities to improve capabilities on seasonal forecasting.


The Scoping Meeting defined the features and objectives of the future MedCOF that would encompass, among others, National and Regional Services around the whole Mediterranean region. There was a strong agreement in creating a single MedCOF for the whole Mediterranean region supported by the fact that large-scale forcings are shared by the entire basin although the effects are different across the region.             

Acknowledging the still poor quality of seasonal forecasts over big areas in the Mediterranean region, the actual challenge is the coordination of efforts to improve forecast systems and to combine climate information from different sources aiming at achieving higher predictive skill for certain windows of opportunity.

Water management was clearly identified as a critical stake for the different countries and sub-regions. Water and water-related seasonal information (precipitation, soil moisture, drought, snow-cover especially in the mountain areas, river discharge, etc.) emerged as great interest issues especially for their cross-sectorial implications: agriculture, energy and tourism, which were also identified as probably the most relevant issues for the whole area. Energy, both production and demand, was also indicated as a major stake for a number of Mediterranean countries. Therefore, efficient interaction with stakeholders from these sectors was then identified as a priority for MedCOF.

As some potential participants in MedCOF were still in an incipient status of development of seasonal forecasting activities both in operations and research domains, MedCOF facilitates the periodic organization of training workshops to strengthen existing capabilities in seasonal forecasting and other relevant areas.

To ensure that the implementation and operational phases of MedCOF moved forward, a proper governance structure was put in place and a small management team was formed, adequately representing the Mediterranean region and the related climate organizations (RA VI and RA I RCCs, the two sub regional COFs (SEECOF and PRESANORD) currently running in the region, among others).More information available on


Past activities

                MedCOF sessions focus on seasonal timescale, but linking them at the same time with sub-seasonal and annual timescales, as some centers are already delivering information for these time scales. Winter and summer emerged as the seasons for which the information is crucial. So far, MedCOF has held ten forums alternating online and physical sessions, to produce consensus seasonal outlooks for the region. The MT decided to rotate hosting offace-to-face sessions among the Mediterranean countries.

The outcome produced in each session includes: i) state of ocean and other climate drivers for the region, ii) probabilistic tercile-based forecast of temperature, precipitation and hydrological relevant variables for the MedCOF domain, iii) information on climate monitoring since the previous season, iv) verification of the last forecasted period (see examples in the MedCOF web site).  On-line sessions have additionally allowed to improve rules and procedures for discussion and production of seasonal outlooks and other MedCOF outcomes.

Training and transfer of knowledge are core activities in MedCOF. Apart from pre-COF training taking place as a routine activity in most sessions, two specialized targeted training events have been organized aiming at increasing the common knowledge on seasonal forecast (emphasizing the operational aspects) and one more is planned for this year. These training activities are focused on strengthening the technical capacity of national and regional climate scientists, paying special attention on countries with less developed seasonal forecasting capacities.

Interaction with users and stakeholders are another crucial element of MedCOF sessions. The recent achievements and changes in the landscape of seasonal prediction (e.g., COPERNICUS, ERA4CS and other relevant initiatives) have raised higher expectations and requirements from stakeholders. They are now demanding more actionable climate information tailored to their needs. In order to increase the level of understanding of what users need and what can be provided based on robust science, the interaction and feedback between communities of seasonal prediction (both from the research and operational fields) and climate sensitive sectors are of paramount importance. MedCOF sessions include one full day devoted to communication of the seasonal outlook to users and stakeholders and to get their feedback on the provided climate information. Besides national users, international agencies and institutions both from the users (e.g., Red Cross, FAO, etc.) and the providers (e.g., COPERNICUS, IRI, etc) sides are also invited.

MedCOF initiative– along with the associated SEECOF and PRESANORD – are the only initiatives that aim at fulfilling the strong demand for climate prediction information for the Mediterranean area, by means of the systematic provision of consensus forecasts, twice-yearly. Even if MedCOF includes a large number of contributor sand potential users, its consensus forecast relies on a relatively limited set of information sources and tools, based on dynamical, statistical and empirical systems.

To fill this gap some MedCOF partners joined their efforts in the MEDSCOPE project within the EU co-funded ERA4CS initiative

(see ).

MEDSCOPE is a three-year project that will enhance the exploitation of climate predictions from seasonal to decadal timescales, maximizing the potential of their application indifferent economic sectors of relevance for the Mediterranean region. MEDSCOPE is mainly focusing on the seasonal timescale as a wealth of forecasts (including retrospective forecasts) is already available and, in general, the state-of-the-art of both scientific knowledge and applications are more mature for this case. However, the project will also provide an assessment of the predictability at longer (multiannual) timescales, an evaluation of the available decadal predictions and of their possible application in the Mediterranean region. We may well say that the MEDSCOPE project aims to become the scientific arm and support of the MedCOF initiative.


3. Participation

                MedCOF brings together representatives from all countries involved in (SEECOF): Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Moldova, Montenegro, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Turkey, Ukraine; in North African Climate Outlook Forum (PRESANORD): Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt; as well as from France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Jordan, Lebanon, Malta, Mauritania and Syria. Representatives from WMO GPCs and designated RCCs as well as from the Secretariat are also attending the MedCOF sessions.


4. South East European Climate Outlook Forum

                South-East European Climate Outlook Forum (SEECOF) the first RCOF organized in Europe, was established in 2008.It is coordinated by the South East European Virtual Climate Change Centre (SEEVCCC), hosted by the Republic Hydrometeorological Service of Serbia. SEECOF covers 24 countries of South East Europe and South Caucasus regions.

Since its first session the SEECOF has developed as a regular event conducted twice a year, a physical session in November, jointly with MedCOF since 2013, to produce consensus statement for winter outlook, and a virtual COF in April-May through online communication, to produce climate outlooks for summer season. So far SEECOF sessions have been conducted nineteen times, 10 face-to-face, and 9 on-line sessions. Details of SEECOF and links to outlooks are available at: .


5. Prévisions Climatiques Saisonnières en Afrique du Nord (PRESANORD)

                The Regional Climate Outlook Forum for Northern Africa (known by its French acronym: PRESANORD) was initially coordinated by the WMO RCC Africa hosted by African Centre of Meteorological Application for Development (ACMAD), Niamey, Niger. PRESANORD covers five countries in North Africa, namely Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia.

The first PRESANORD session took place in January 2012 in Alger, Algeria. It meets once or twice yearly, subject to funds availability: in late November for the December-January-February season -jointly with MedCOF since 2013, and between February and March for the March-April-May season. The National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHS) of Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia as well as representative(s) from RCC Africa, other international experts and resource persons participate in PRESANORD, which currently is coordinated by the WMO North Africa RCC-Network. So far PRESANORD sessions have been conducted twelve times.


6. Arab Climate Outlook Forum



The idea of the establishment of an Arab Climate Outlook Forum (ArabCOF) was proposed by the Arab Permanent Committee on Meteorology (APCM) at its 30th meeting in Kuwait (10-13 March 2014), and its important role was recognized in providing the seasonal forecasting and climate predictions/projections for the Arab region, providing the various users with regional climate information and building the capacities for the provision of climate services at meteorological services in Arab states. Also, the ArabCOF is one of the main instruments towards the implementation of the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS) within the region. Thus, the Committee called for organizing a meeting to discuss the actions needed and the institutional aspects related to the setup of the ArabCOF.


The Scoping Meeting for the Establishment of the ArabCOF was convened in Amman, Jordan, during 14-16 October 2014, and organized by LAS, ESCWA and WMO and hosted by the Jordanian Meteorological Department (JMD). Heads of the Meteorological Authorities or their representatives, and experts on seasonal forecasting and climate projections from the Arab meteorological offices and international organizations participated in the meeting. The participants agreed on the overall concept, the scope and institutional arrangements of ArabCOF. 


In light of the approval of the consultative meeting on the establishment of the Arab Climate Outlook Forum (ArabCOF), the terms of reference of the ArabCOF were presented to the Arab Permanent Committee on Meteorology (APCM) at its thirty-first session (Jeddah, 26-28 April 2015). The Technical Secretariat was assigned in coordination with the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) to consider the budget it emcontained in the terms of reference of the ArabCOF to include the cost of the systems and other technical aspects of the Forum.


Past activities

The technical team of the ArabCOF held its first meeting on 29th September 2017. The participants presented and discussed the seasonal predictions for autumn 2017 in the Arab region. Based on the that, the team issued a draft seasonal forecast for this fall as a model for building the outcomes of the ArabCOF.


The technical team of the ArabCOF held its second meeting that was hosted by the General Meteorological Authority of the Arab Republic of Egypt on the 13th and 14th of February 2018 with the support of WMO and ESCWA. It was agreed that the process of developing the consensus statement is the main outcome of the meeting. The role of other regional mechanisms was also discussed, especially the North Africa RCC-Network, which will provide technical support to ArabCOF according to the scope of its work and the possibility of coverage of the rest of the entire Arab Region. It was emphasized that the reis a need for the engagement of stakeholders and users from different sectors to understand their needs and guide the monthe use of climate information in the decision-making process


The third session of ArabCOF will take place during the period 26-29 November 2018 at the headquarters of the Egyptian Meteorological Authority in Cairo, in conjunction with other RCOFs, in particular, the Mediterranean, North Africa and South-Eastern EuropeCOFs. The United Nations Economic and Social Commission (ESCWA), the World Meterological Organization (WMO) and State Meteorological Agency of Spain (AEMET) are supporting these events.

TheArabCOF-3aims to:

-              Prepare seasonal forecasts for the boreal winter, e.g. from December 2018 to February 2019, across the entire Mediterranean region, and for   

                each of sub regions the Arab, North Africa and South East Europe;

-              Compare the seasonal forecasts prepared by the different forums to ensure their harmony in their common domains.

-              Monitor and evaluate the regional climate trends of the Arab region and to benefit from other Forums in this regard.

-              Evaluate previous predictions and determine their accuracy using different models.

-              Engage users from the environment, agriculture and water resources sectors to understand their needs and guide the month use of climate in

               formation in the decision-making process and maximize the use of seasonal predictions to take appropriate action to deal with them.

-              Preparation of a consensus statement for different Forums and preparation of the outputs to be uploaded to the Regional Knowledge Center

               (RICCAR) by ESCWA on the ArabCOF website.

-              Define a work program to prepare for then ext sessions, including fourth meeting of the ArabCOF and assess the accuracy of the seasonal

               predictions during the studied period.

7. Format of the Joint Sessions


                The joint sessions of MedCOF-SEECOF-PRESANORD-ArabCOF will be conducted in the following format:


First Day (pre-COF)

  1. Presentations and/or Practical Training on projects, initiatives or recent results relevant for operational seasonal forecasting.


Second Day

  1. Presentations from WMO GPCs and associated Lead Centers and other producers of global LRF; Producers of regional/sub regional LRF – RA VI RCC-Network, North Africa RCC, and other operational and research centers; Presentations on climate variability and the main influence factors

  2. Climate Monitoring and assessment of the current state of climate.

  3. Verification of previous climate outlook

  4. First proposal of MedCOF consensus statement for climate outlook for the following winter (DJF) based on large scale drivers.

  5. Parallel sessions of SEECOF/PRESANORD/ArabCOF


Third Day

  1. Parallel sessions of SEECOF/PRESANORD/ArabCOF

  2. Production of the agreed MedCOF consensus statement with inputs received from SEECOF/PRESANORD/ArabCOF

Fourth Day

  1. Interaction with users and stakeholders. Result from the consensus statement is presented to users/stakeholders. Presentations by users showing their current use and their needs of seasonal products

  2. Discussions on organizational matters, planning next sessions, identifying challenges. Conclusions and recommendations

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