The Year of Polar Prediction

  • November 2017
  • Kirstin Werner and International Coordination Office for Polar Prediction

Changes in polar climate come with a number of opportunities with significant impact on maritime traffic for scientific, fisheries and tourism purposes. The rapid environmental and socio-economic changes also bear significant risks. Accurate weather and sea-ice forecasts will therefore play an increasingly important role in aiding risk reduction and management in the polar regions.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has established a Year of Polar Prediction (YOPP) under the auspices of its World Weather Research Programme (WWRP) and its Polar Prediction Project. The Year of Polar Prediction aims to significantly improve environmental prediction capabilities for the polar regions and beyond, on time scales from hours to seasons. The core period of YOPP runs from mid-2017 to mid-2019. YOPP was officially launched this May and entails intensive observing and modelling efforts in both the Arctic and the Antarctic.


Key Activities

Key activities include YOPP Special Observing Periods dedicated to enhance routine measurements and investigations of physical phenomena, the development and improvement of numerical forecasting models, and the verification and improvement of forecasting services.

The Antarctic Special Observing Period is planned for 16 November 2018 to 15 February 2019 (Fig. 1). During this intensive phase routine observations will be enhanced in an attempt to close gaps in the current observing system in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. Extra observations by, for example, radiosonde launches and ocean buoy deployments, will allow for forecasting system experiments aimed at optimising observing systems in the polar regions and providing insight into the impact of better polar observations on forecast skill, also in lower latitudes. Key to ensuring all observations are considered in forecasting experiments is to share all data through WMO’s Global Telecommunication System (GTS).

To advance planning for specific activities during the Year of Polar Prediction several YOPP Task Teams have been established for Airborne Platforms, Buoys, Communication, Data, Education, Modelling Activities, Societal and Economic Research and Applications (SERA), Satellite, Southern Hemisphere, Special Observing Periods, and Verification.

A YOPP data portal has been launched to ensure the observational and modelling data are publicly available. Education is another important component of YOPP: The second Polar Prediction School, during which young scientists will be trained in polar environmental prediction science, will be held in April 2018. For more information visit the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists website.


Participants at the joint session of YOPP-SH and SORP at the National Center of Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado, USA in June 2017. 

YOPP In the Southern Hemisphere

To make YOPP a success in the Southern Hemisphere, a YOPP-SH committee has been established to coordinate activities (see the the YOPP-SH website). The second Year of Polar Prediction in the Southern Hemisphere Planning Meeting (YOPP-SH #2) was organised as part of the Antarctic Meteorology and Climate workshop, hosted by the National Center of Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado, June 2017.

To better entrain the Southern Ocean community, a joint session of the YOPP-SH and the CLIVAR/CliC/SCAR Southern Ocean Regional Panel (SORP) was held at the June meeting in Boulder. Resulting from the joint session’s discussion, mooring weather data from 55S, 90W has now been made available on the GTS with a significant impact on the weather forecasts. The complete YOPP-SH #2 report will soon be available from and the YOPP-SH website.

Projects, programs and initiatives endorsed by the Year of Polar Prediction. For more details including the full project name please visit


A YOPP endorsement process allows for improved coordination of activities relevant to the aims of the Year of Polar Prediction. Projects, programs and initiatives that plan to contribute to YOPP can request endorsement. After reviewing, endorsed research benefits from increased visibility and often an increased chance of funding from national sources. In turn, endorsement allows the YOPP network to coordinate activities and enhance networking and communication among the various activities. More than 60 YOPP activities have been endorsed to date, with about half active in the Southern Hemisphere (Fig. 3). Recently, the endorsement process was also opened for research institutes and operational forecasting centres whose activities contribute to the success of YOPP. For more information visit the Polar Prediction website.

Special Observing Periods during the Year of Polar Prediction in the Arctic and Antarctic. 


The third YOPP in the Southern Hemisphere (YOPP-SH) meeting will be held on 19 July 2018 in Madison, Wisconsin, USA, following the 13th Workshop on Antarctic Meteorology and Climate (16–18 July).

During the meeting, project investigators and representatives of national agencies active in Antarctica will provide updates on preparations and the status of planning with regards to the aforementioned Special Observing Period in the Southern Hemisphere. YOPP-SH#03 will be hosted by the Antarctic Meteorological Research Center and Automatic Weather Stations Project at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. For more information on the AMC Workshop, please see here. Information on registration for the YOPP-SH workshop will be posted at



The German Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre of Polar and Marine Research, hosts the International Coordination Office (ICO) for Polar Prediction, which serves as a focal point for the communication and coordination among the academic community and stakeholders involved with polar prediction topics.

Relevant information, including workshop and meeting reports, but also details on coordinated model experiments, education and outreach efforts, funding aspects, verification, data assimilation, satellite data, and the YOPP data component are available on the website and distributed via the newsletter PolarPredictNews. To contact the ICO send an email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Copyright 2015 Southern Ocean Observing System. All rights reserved.