The celebration of Santo Tomás de Aquino, patron of students and professors, took place at the University of Cantabria on Friday, January 25. That day an academic ceremony took also place where the “Extraordinary Doctorate Awards 2018” were presented. One of those awards corresponded to Rodrigo García Manzanas, researcher of the IFCA meteorology group, with his thesis "Statistical downscaling of precipitation in seasonal forecasting: Advantages and limitations of different approaches ".
The objective of the seasonal forecast is to estimate the average weather conditions for the next season a few months in advance. For example, in the form of tertiary-based anomalies: cold/normal/warm, dry/normal/wet. These types of predictions have a large number of applications and help decision making in different sectors such as agriculture, energy, transport, health and hydrology, so their use has continued to increase in recent decades. However, unlike what happens with short- and medium-term weather forecasts, the reliability of seasonal forecasts is restricted to certain windows of opportunity (that is, to certain regions of the world and times of the year), which must be identified properly. In addition, the low spatial resolution of the numerical models used in seasonal prediction is insufficient for most practical applications.
To solve this limitation, Rodrigo García's thesis focuses on the development of statistical regionalization techniques that allow, through the use of data mining/machine learning, to bring the low-resolution predictions of the numerical models to the local scale useful for the impact sectors. It is important to note that, while statistical regionalization has been widely used to date for the modelling of climate change, its use in the context of seasonal prediction has been much scarcer.
As a result of the scientific knowledge that has given rise to its development, this Thesis (which can be freely downloaded from here) has served to establish the reference methodological framework followed in several projects of research and transfer carried out in the Santander Meteorology Group in recent years. Also, an important number of scientific articles have been derived from it, which have been published in journals of international prestige in the field of atmospheric sciences (see http://meteo.unican.es/people/rmanzanas).