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Climate Variability and Change Virtual Course

The Climate Variability and Change virtual course is a training component of the Climate Services Professional Development Series. The course is designed for NWS WFO and RFC Climate Focal Points, Science and Operations Officers, Warning Coordination Meteorologists, Service Coordination Hydrologists and all climate services staff. The course goal is raising NOAA NWS staff level of understanding of various climate variability and change topics. The course will provide more extensive background training in the following areas:
(1) The difference between climate and weather
(2) Statistical techniques used in climate studies, including analyses of local climatology
(3) Dynamics, physical mechanisms, and impacts of climate variability phenomena including El Nino / La Nina, Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO), tropical forcing, and teleconnections
(4) The science behind and limitations of Climate Prediction Center (CPC) climate prediction products
(5) The physical and feedback mechanisms involved in global climate change

The objective of this training is to equip the NWS climate staff with additional scientific knowledge needed for effective local climate services. This course is complimentary to the Operational Climate Services course that targets developing operational skills. Prior to attending the formal portion of the Climate Variability and Change virtual course, attendees are expected to complete important prerequisites, including recommended completion of the Operational Climate Services course.

The Climate Variability and Change virtual course has been published at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research COMET site ( and at NWS Learning Center (Climate Variability and Change Lectures linked from

Expected specific outcomes

Each trainee, upon completion of the training, should be able to:

  • Understand and explain the difference between climate and weather
  • Define, understand, and explain meaning of local climatology statistics, and interpret local climatology information to office staff and customers
  • Understand principles of statistical techniques used in climate studies and outlooks
  • Understand and explain primary physical mechanisms of the following climate variability phenomena: oscillations (including El Nino /La Nina, MJO, North Atlantic Oscillation) and teleconnection indices
  • Understand and explain the impacts on U.S. climate of such features as drought, flood and monsoons
  • Understand and explain basics and the mechanisms of interaction of climate system components such as ocean circulations (e.g. thermo-haline and gyre circulations), land surface hydrology, and stratospheric variability.
  • Understand and explain terminology routinely used in CPC discussions
  • Explain physical meaning of CPC products and discussions
  • Explain the importance of several climate variability phenomena and processes in climate predictions
  • Identify observed global climate change signals (e.g. CO2, temperature trends, Arctic sea ice extent, etc.), explain certain physical mechanisms for global climate change, and articulate the uncertainties associated with global climate change forecasts and outcomes (e.g. observation errors and predicted future states of the atmosphere/ocean system)

    Course Organizing Team:

    NOAA team:
    Ingrid Amberger
    Ed Berry
    Deirdre Kann
    Jim Noel
    Erik Pytlak
    Michael Staudenmaier
    Marina Timofeyeva
    Kevin Werner

    COMET team:
    Wendy Abshire
    Lon Goldstein
    Amy Stevermer
    Tim Alberta
    Michelle Harrison
    Ken Kim



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    Page Author: Marina Timofeyeva
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