Project overview

Crashing waves at New Brighton, UK
Crashing waves at New Brighton, UK ©

CLIVAR is an international research programme investigating climate variability and predictability on different time-scales and the response of the climate system to anthropogenic forcing. CLIVAR is one of the major components of the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP). It started in 1995 and will have a lifetime of 15 years.

The specific objectives of CLIVAR are

  • To describe and understand the physical processes responsible for climate variability and predictability on seasonal, interannual, decadal, and centennial time-scales
  • To coordinate the collection and analysis of observations and the development and application of models of the coupled climate system, in cooperation with other relevant climate-research and observing programmes
  • To extend the record of climate variability over the time-scales of interest through the assembly of quality controlled palaeoclimatic and instrumental data sets
  • To extend the range and accuracy of seasonal to interannual climate prediction through the development of global coupled predictive models
  • To understand and predict the response of the climate system to increases of radiatively active gases and aerosols and to compare these predictions to the observed climate record in order to detect the anthropogenic modification of the natural climate signal

World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE)

CLIVAR evolved from WOCE which was a major international project. A huge amount of ocean observations was collected during the field phase of WOCE between 1990 and 1998. The success of WOCE has had a considerable influence on the implementation and development of CLIVAR, though there are significant differences. WOCE was principally an ocean only programme and focused on the physical aspects of global circulation. The scientific scope of CLIVAR is much broader and it covers a wider range of disciplines. CLIVAR also relies much more on data collected from existing observing programmes such as Argo.

Data Assembly Centres (DACs)

During WOCE a series of Data Assembly Centres (DACs) with the appropriate expertise were established to handle the various individual data streams from different types of instruments. The principal role of each data assembly centre was to gather data from the participating investigators, to undertake quality control and assemble the relevant metadata. This ensured that quality controlled data were securely archived and made available. The WOCE Global Data Resource is available online at both the US National Oceanographic Data Centre and the Australian Antarctic Division. It is also available on DVD.

Most of the WOCE Data Assembly Centres have agreed to continue to function as CLIVAR DACs, some of which manage data in real time. BODC continues to operate as the Delayed-mode Sea Level DAC and has also taken on responsibility for the Moored Instrument DAC for CLIVAR. During WOCE, the University of Oregon, USA, acted as the Current Meter DAC. It ceased operation when WOCE finished. The aim is to assemble, quality control and deliver these delayed mode data sets. Data which were not specifically collected using CLIVAR funding (CLIVAR-related data) may also be included to ensure the safeguarding of these data.


Through major contributions from NERC, the Met Office and UK Universities, many of the UK's leading research groups are actively involved in CLIVAR related projects. The major focus for UK CLIVAR is the North Atlantic Ocean and one of the UK's main contributions to CLIVAR will be through the RAPID project. BODC is jointly responsible for the data management of this. BODC also manages data from UK Argo which is an international project operating a global array of profiling floats.

Climate Variability and Predictability    World Climate Research Programme