Climate Variability & Predictability (CVP)

The Climate Variability and Predictability (CVP) Program supports research that enhances our process-level understanding of the climate system through observation, modeling, analysis, and field studies. This vital knowledge is needed to improve climate models and predictions so that scientists and society can better anticipate the impacts of future climate variability and change. CVP maintains a portfolio of projects intended to answer the following questions:

  • How can we better understand and anticipate the global and regional impacts of climate variability and change?
  • What foundational knowledge do we need to improve climate models and predictions - improving our ability to assess risk and inform decision-making?
  • How can we close the predictability gap between weather models (0-2 weeks) and climate models (seasonal to interannual) to inform seasonal and sub-seasonal predictions?

To achieve its mission, the CVP Program invests in NOAA mission-critical research, which is carried out at NOAA and other federal laboratories, NOAA Cooperative Institutes, and academic institutions. The Program also coordinates its sponsored projects with major national and international scientific bodies including the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) -  especially CLIVAR (Climate and Ocean Variability, Predictability and Change) and GEWEX (Global Energy and Water Cycle Exchanges)  programs - and the U.S. Global Change Research program (USGCRP).

See our current and past funded projects.

In order to to understand the dynamics of, and sources of predictability in, the coupled ocean-atmosphere-land-ice system across all climate time scales, CVP supports current projects that:

  • Explore existing biases (errors) in climate model simulations of tropical Pacific climate processes in order to generate new discoveries and refine existing understanding of these processes.
  • Conduct field studies to improve our understanding of how the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) is initiated and develops - which can improve intraseasonal forecasting of climate.
  • Research climate variability on longer (decadal) timescales through improved understanding of such phenomena as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC).
  • Focus on regional climate variability and its connections to the global climate system, such as interrogating the mechanisms that affect Arctic temperatures and sea ice, and the potential to improve regional predictions.

Science and Understanding for Society

CVP-supported research underpins many of the environmental assessments, weather forecasts, and climate projections used by the nation to make decisions about infrastructure development, aviation, farming, national security and defense, ecosystem management, emergency preparedness, and other critical areas. Our scientists evolve and expand knowledge about how the large scale components of the earth influence each other, and which of those components may guide us to anticipate future changes and understand past changes in the climate.

From 2011 to present, CVP has supported many different research projects that focus on improving our understanding of the Madden-Julian Oscillation, a 30-90 day climate pattern (which interacts with El-Nino, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, and many other climate phenomena) that starts in the Indian Ocean and propagates around the world - affecting the oceans and atmosphere on both weather and climate timescales. Improvements in our understanding of this process - how it is initiated and how it travels across the globe - will increase our prediction skill within a time window where there is currently a skill gap (seasonal to sub-seasonal). Better forecasts within this time window are important for farmers planting crops, logistics managers determining shipping routes through arctic waters, and countless other industries and sectors. It also could increase the window for predicting extreme weather over the United States - thus improving our ability to prepare and respond to dangerous conditions.

For more information, see a CVP-supported publication that explains this connection in great detail: Zhang, 2013; DOI: 10.1175/BAMS-D-12-00026.1.

CVP’s Role in the Climate Program Office

The CVP Program is a critical component of the integrated research enterprise  at the NOAA Climate Program Office (CPO), and maintains important connections to the other CPO program areas. In order to improve understanding of the climate system and its representation in models we need high-quality, consistent, long-term observations of the many parameters of the climate system. The Climate Observation and Monitoring Division (COM) is the CPO group tasked with supporting observing and monitoring systems for this purpose, and for others such as early warning. Observations and data products supported by COM are used by CVP-supported scientists to build improved theories for the complex dynamics of the many components of the climate system, and COM is informed by the needs of the process modeling and climate variability community.

The research generated by CVP-funded projects such as the improved understanding of the climate system, and the many high-quality, high-frequency regional  observations are then used by scientists supported under the MAPP program (Modeling, Analysis, Predictions and Projections) to strengthen our ability to predict and project changes in the climate system through modeling and analysis. These scientists formulate and implement enhancements to climate models and validate these enhancements against observations. The outcomes of modeling and analysis inform COM and CVP scientists by demonstrating where there are gaps in the data we collect and in our understanding of how climate processes work.

Outcomes from the COM, CVP, and MAPP programs directly align with NOAA’s mission of science, service, and stewardship, and are connected to the societal need for better predictive capabilities.  Through the Climate and Societal Interactions (CSI) division, NOAA-supported research is applied to a diverse set of problems from drought to extreme heat. Through the Communication, Education, and Engagement Division (CEE), the output of CPO is shared and tailored to many different user groups. The discoveries and updates made by CVP-supported scientists are explained and applied to a wide audience by CSI and CEE.

Altogether, the programs within CPO form a network of functional areas that support different elements of scientific research, development, and operationalization of our knowledge of the earth system. CVP’s role is to draw from both environmental and societal inputs to advance understanding of climate for better informed predictions, responses, and resilience to climate.


Climate Program Office
1315 East-West Hwy, Suite 1100
Silver Spring, MD 20910


Americans’ health, security and economic wellbeing are tied to climate and weather. Every day, we see communities grappling with environmental challenges due to unusual or extreme events related to climate and weather. In 2011, the United States experienced a record high number (14) of climate- and weather-related disasters where overall costs reached or exceeded $1 billion. Combined, these events claimed 670 lives, caused more than 6,000 injuries, and cost $55 billion in damages. Businesses, policy leaders, resource managers and citizens are increasingly asking for information to help them address such challenges.