The aim of the German Science Foundation (DFG) research unit “Predictability and Dynamics of Weather Systems in the Atlantic-European Sector (PANDOWAE) was “to advance our knowledge and understanding of the dynamical processes responsible for the development of high impact weather systems, to elucidate the factors that limit the predictability of such systems, and to contribute the basic research that will lead to the development of innovative interactive weather forecasting systems”. PANDOWAE was a major German contribution to the ten year international research programme THORPEX of the World Meteorological Organization World Weather Research Programme. The focus of PANDOWAE was on high impact weather systems that present significant challenges for numerical weather prediction in Europe. These include winter storms, Mediterranean cyclones, flooding events, mesoscale convective systems, atmospheric blocking and heat waves.
PANDOWAE was a collaboration of researchers from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, the Oeschger Centre for Climate Research at University of Bern, Deutscher Wetterdienst, the Johannes-Gutenberg University of Mainz, the Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich, the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) at Oberpfaffenhofen, the Leibniz-Institute of Atmospheric Physics at the University of Rostock and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich.
The research unit can look back on six years of successful research: Until now 81 papers have been published and 14 PhD-, 21 Diploma-/Master, and 7 Bachelor theses have been finished in the framework of PANDOWAE. Cooperations between the projects yielded to several joint studies within as well as cross cutting the research areas. In the frame of PANDOWAE the young scientists had very good opportunities to develop and to benefit from the expertise of the senior scientists. An important role for the exchange of knowledge and experience play the PANDOWAE workshops and the Young Scientists workshops. At the PANDOWAE Final Symposium in 2015 results were discussed in an international context.
A number of common factors can be identified that influence the development and structure of the high impact weather systems. In many cases the environment in which they develop is determined by the synoptic- to planetary-scale framework associated with upper-level Rossby waves. Moist processes play a fundamental role in the development and structure of the systems as well as in their impact on the large-scale flow. The uncertainty associated with forecasts of these systems is such that the use of ensemble forecasts and adaptive observing strategies is expected to improve the information contained in forecasts. Thus PANDOWAE research focuses on research areas, the background of which is given in the following.