Erik in front of the Geophysical Institute in 2018

Hi, and thanks for visiting! (If you're looking for my Norwegian home page, click here.)

I'm a research professor at NORCE and the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research. My main research interests are seasonal forecasting and climate change impacts and solutions. I currently lead the EU Horizon 2020 CONFER project on climate services in East Africa and the Climate Futures research centre. Below you'll find some elements from my CV, which you can download here. Please get in touch by e-mail or on Twitter.


Books (in Norwegian)

  • With Øyvind Paasche: Hva er KLIMA, 2009, 2nd edition 2022
  • With several others: Verda og vi, 2019
  • Uvær, 2006, to be issued as audiobook in 2022

Peer-reviewed papers

  • # of published papers: 34 (as first author: 21)
  • See also list of publications on Google Scholar


  • Kolstad, E. W., and D. MacLeod. Lagged oceanic effects on the East African short rains. Accepted in Climate Dynamics. DOI: 10.1007/s00382-022-06176-6 [postprint]
  • Domeisen, D. I. V., et al. Advances in the subseasonal prediction of extreme events: Relevant case studies across the globe. Accepted by Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS).


  • Kolstad, E. W., D. MacLeod, and T. D. Demissie. Drivers of subseasonal forecast errors of the East African short rains. Geophysical Research Letters (GRL). DOI: 10.1029/2021GL093292


  • Kolstad, E. W., C. O. Wulff, D. I. V. Domeisen, and T. Woollings. Tracing North Atlantic Oscillation forecast errors to stratospheric origins. Journal of Climate. DOI: 10.1175/JCLI-D-20-0270.1 [preprint]
  • Kolstad, E. W. Prediction and precursors of Idai and 38 Other Tropical Cyclones and Storms in the Mozambique Channel. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society. DOI: 10.1002/qj.3903 [postprint]
  • Hallerstig, M., L. Magnusson, E. W. Kolstad, and S. Mayer. How grid‐spacing and convection representation affected the wind speed forecasts of four polar lows. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society. DOI: 10.1002/qj.3911


  • Kolstad, E. W. and J. A. Screen. Nonstationary Relationship between Autumn Arctic Sea Ice and the Winter North Atlantic Oscillation. Geophysical Research Letters (GRL). DOI: 10.1029/2019GL083059
  • Kolstad, E. W., O. N. Sofienlund, H. Kvamsås, M. A. Stiller-Reeve, S. Neby, Ø. Paasche, M. Pontoppidan, S. P. Sobolowski, H. Haarstad, S. E. Oseland, L. Omdahl, and S. Waage. Trials, errors and improvements in co-production of climate services. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS). DOI: 10.1175/BAMS-D-18-0201.1
  • Pontoppidan, M., E. W. Kolstad, S. P. Sobolowski, A. Sorteberg, C. Liu and R. Rasmussen. Large-scale model biases in the extratropical North Atlantic storm track and impacts on downstream precipitation. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society. DOI: 10.1002/qj.3588
  • Renfrew, I. et al. (including E. W. Kolstad). The Iceland Greenland Seas Project. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS). DOI: 10.1175/BAMS-D-18-0217.1


  • Pontoppidan, M. L. N., E. W. Kolstad, S. P. Sobolowski, and M. P. King. Improving the reliability and added value of dynamical downscaling via correction of large-scale errors: A Norwegian perspective. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres. DOI: 10.1029/2018JD028372
  • Kolstad, E. W., and M. Årthun. Seasonal Prediction from Arctic Sea Surface Temperatures: Opportunities and Pitfalls. Journal of Climate. DOI: 10.1175/JCLI-D-18-0016.1
  • Årthun, M., E. W. Kolstad, T. Eldevik, and N. S. Keenlyside. Time scales and sources of European temperature variability. Geophysical Research Letters. DOI: 10.1002/2018GL077401


  • Kolstad, E. W. Causal Pathways for Temperature Predictability from Snow Depth. Journal of Climate. DOI: 10.1175/JCLI-D-17-0280.1
  • Kolstad, E. W. Higher ocean surface wind speeds during marine cold air outbreaks. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society. DOI: 10.1002/qj.3068
  • Kolstad, E. W., E. A. Barnes and S. P. Sobolowski. Quantifying the Role of Land–Atmosphere Feedbacks in Mediating Near-Surface Temperature Persistence. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society. DOI: 10.1002/qj.3033
  • Kolstad, E. W. and T. J. Bracegirdle Sensitivity of an Apparently Hurricane-like Polar Low to Sea Surface Temperature. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society. DOI: 10.1002/qj.2980
  • Pontoppidan, M., J. Reuder, S. Mayer and E. W. Kolstad. Downscaling an intense precipitation event in complex terrain: The importance of high grid resolution. Tellus A. DOI: 10.1080/16000870.2016.1271561



Before 2015

Other publications

  • Kristjánsson, J. E. and E. W. Kolstad (2011): IPY-THORPEX (editorial). Q. J. Roy. Meteorol. Soc., 137, 1657–1658
  • Mauritzen, C. and E. W. Kolstad (2011): The Arctic Ocean – an ocean in transition [pdf]
  • Kolstad, E. W. and J. I. Borgos (2018): De uventa stormene [The unexpected storms]. Naturen, 142.

Recent projects

Acronym Duration Total budget Funding agency Coordinating institution My role
Climate Futures (Center for Research-based Innovation) 2020–2028 200 million NOK Research Council of Norway (RCN) NORCE Director
CONFER (Co-production of Climate Services for East Africa) 2020–2024 €7 million European Commission (EC) NORCE Coordinator
ALERTNESS 2018–2021 25 million NOK RCN MET Norway (Jørn Kristiansen) PhD supervisor
SFE (Seasonal Forecasting Engine) 2017–2021 16 million NOK RCN NORCE Principal Investigator (PI)
CHEX (Climate hazards and extremes) 2018–2021 8 million NOK Bjerknes Centre NORCE Initially PI, then researcher
HordaFlom 2017–2021 7 million NOK Regional Research Fund of Western Norway (RFF) NORCE (Øyvind Paasche) Initially WP leader, then researcher
HordaKlim 2015–2018 6 million NOK RFF NORCE PI
Blue-Action 2016–2019 €7.5 million EC DMI (Steffen Olsen) Researcher
R3 2016–2019 10 million NOK RCN NORCE (Stefan Sobolowski, Marie Pontoppidan) PhD supervisor



  • From June 2015: Research Professor (Forsker I), Norwegian Research Centre (NORCE) & Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research (BCCR)
  • From 2013: Co-founder of Suncurves AS


  • 2020–21: Researcher (20%), Norwegian Meteorological Institute
  • 2018–2020: Adjunct Professor (Professor II), Centre for Climate and Energy Transformation (CET), University of Bergen (UiB)
  • 2014–15: Senior researcher (Forsker II) at Uni Research & BCCR
  • 2011–14: Senior researcher/developer at StormGeo
  • 2010: Head of the research group for global and regional climate projections at Uni Research & BCCR
  • 2007–10: Postdoctoral researcher, Uni Research & BCCR
  • 2003–07: Ph.D. student, Geophysical institute (GFI), UiB and BCCR
  • 2000–03: Programmer, ICEsoft AS (later aquired by WindRiver), Bergen
  • 1999–00: Programmer, PMSC (later aquired by CSC), Bergen

Commissions of trust

  • Member of the advisory boards of the Horizon 2020 projects FOCUS-Africa and DOWN2EARTH
  • Member of the programme committee for the 2021 SANORD conference in Bergen
  • 2017–2019: Member of the steering committee of SNAP - the Stratospheric Network for the Assessment of Predictability. SNAP is a SPARC (Stratosphere-troposphere Processes And their Role in Climate) network, and SPARC is a core project of the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP).
  • 2014–19 and for the IPY-THORPEX special edition in 2011: Associate editor of the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society
  • 2016: Member of the programme committee for the 4th Nordic Conference on Climate Change Adaptation in Bergen
  • 2015–16: Board member of the Norwegian Geophyisical Union
  • Reviewer for Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, Journal of Climate, Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, Climate Dynamics, Geophysical Research Letters, Tellus A, Atmospheric Science Letters, and Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society
  • Proposal reviewer for the European Commission (Horizon 2020), the US National Science Foundation and NERC


  • Ph.D. in meteorology, GFI, 2007. Thesis: Extreme winds in the Nordic Seas: polar lows and Arctic fronts in a changing climate
  • M.Sc. in applied mathematics (plasma dynamics), Dept. of Mathematics, UB, 1997. Thesis: Stability of a tokamak in the presence of a resistive wall
  • First year of technical studies at the INSA Toulouse, France, 1992–1993

About me

Erik in front of the Geophysical Institute in 2018

I'm a researcher at NORCE and the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research in Bergen, Norway. I took my PhD in meteorology at the Geophysical institute at the University of Bergen in 2007, focusing mainly on polar lows and marine cold air outbreaks. After that I was lucky enough to be part of a substantial Norwegian IPY research project entitled IPY-THORPEX, led by the late Jón Egill Kristjánsson. From 2011 to 2014, I worked for the commercial weather company StormGeo in Bergen, before I came back “home” to Uni Research Climate and the Bjerknes Centre for climate research. Apart from polar meteorology, one of my main research interests is seasonal forecasting. This started somewhat by coincidence, when I met Adam Scaife and we started discussing whether stratospheric sudden warmings (SSWs) could potentially influence cold air outbreaks over the Northeast Atlantic, which would then mean that they influenced the probability of polar lows. We wrote a paper about that in QJRMS in 2010. In the recently started European Commission project Blue Action, I will pick this idea back up and study the predictability of cold air outbreaks (and indirectly of polar lows) on the seasonal time scale. In 2015, I also published the first paper in a series on month-to-month persistence and its physical pathways. Persistence is perhaps the most readily available source of predictability in the climate system, and is therefore a key predictor in empirical forecast models. The second paper, where the mechanisms for persistence are investigated, was recently accepted for publication in QJRMS.

I have long experience in leadership, co-production and outreach. In 2010, I was recruited as the head of the research groups for regional climate modelling and climate services at Uni Research and the Bjerknes Centre. Currently, I co-lead the same research group at Uni Research Climate, where one of my main tasks is the nurture and establish new collaborations with researchers at other institutions, including from other disciplines. In this capacity, I will be involved in the newly established Centre for Climate and Energy Transformation at the University of Bergen. Inter-disciplinary research and climate service is my other main research interest. I lead the Research Council of Norway (RCN) funded HordaKlim project. This is a collaboration with Hordaland county, and the aim is to make future climate projections usable and relevant for users in municipalities and businesses in western Norway. User engagement, two-way communication and co-production are key words that describe this work. I’m also a work package leader in two other climate service projects, and I currently supervise one PhD student. When at StormGeo, I had the responsibility for all operational forecasts and hindcasts.

In terms of outreach, I have written or contributed to four popular science books, and I frequently write opinion articles in Norwegian newspapers. I am also often interviewed for newspaper articles, or for radio and TV, and I have several active web pages and blogs about weather and climate.

I'm currently leading an initiative to establish a new research centre for seasonal forecasting at the Bjerknes Centre. Please get in touch if this sounds interesting, whether you're a researcher or a potential user.


CONFER: Co-production of Climate Services for East Africa

Budget: about €7M. Funding agency: The European Commission. Project period: 2020-2024

We are currently preparing the grant agreement, and the project will start in September 2020. I will be the PI.

CONFER is a multi-national collaboration to bolster resilience to climate impacts and reduce disaster risk in East Africa, potentially reaching 365 million people in eleven countries. Our main objective is to co-develop dedicated climate services for the water, energy and food security sectors with stakeholders and end-users, to enhance their ability to plan for and adapt to seasonal climate fluctuations. The scientific work in CONFER is ambitious and aims to break new ground along three inter-related tracks. First, we will secure end-user engagement by using the Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Fora, which are held three times per year and attract about 200 stakeholders, as platforms for co-production of new and dedicated climate services for our focus sectors. By fostering a two-way dialogue between our scientists and a large group of stakeholders and end-users, we will create enthusiasm and raise awareness to ensure that the value of our new science and products is fully realized by those who need them the most. Second, we will improve on the accuracy and local detail of numerical prediction model outputs for East Africa, with a particular focus on seasonal prediction. Third, we will develop statistical and machine learning tools to obtain a new level of seasonal forecast skill based on numerical models and high- resolution satellite data. We will also involve our scientific experts in a large training and capacity development programme designed to enhance climate information uptake in our focus sectors. Our research and outreach address important IPCC topics, the sustainable development goals, and the expected impacts in the call for proposals. We will aim to influence policymaking through frequent interaction with stakeholders at the climate outlook fora, by publishing policy briefs, and by organizing an open conference on climate services in Africa.

Seasonal Forecasting Engine

Budget: about 16M NOK. Main funder: The Research Council of Norway. Project period: 2017-2021

We're qualified for phase 1 of the IKTPLUSS programme entitled "Ubiquitous data and services", and we got through to Phase 2 in December 2017. I'm the project leader.


Budget: about 6.2M NOK. Main funder: The Research Council of Norway. Project period: 2017-2020

The goal of HordaFlom is to reconstruct the frequency and severity of floods in Western Norway. One thing that became apparent when working on HordaKlim (see below) was that many municipalities are note even adapted to today's climate, let alone the climate of a warmer future. One of the reasons is that we don't have enough data to calculate 200-year return levels, which is the level used by municipalities when planning new infrastructure. What we aim to do is to use sediment cores from the bottom of lakes to reveal how floods have behaved in the past. Our aim is to use this information to constrain current 200-year return levels and to also constrain climate model projections for the future.


Budget: about 5.5M NOK. Main funder: The Research Council of Norway. Project period: 2015-2018

I lead this project, where the goal is to provide relevant information on future climate change to municipalities and businesses in Hordaland, western Norway. The project is inter-disciplinary, and has two main objectives. One is to communicate with the users in order to know what they need, but also to let them know what they can get. This two-way communication has been very interesting for all parties, and have led to a lot of surprising findings (at least for me). The other objective is to build a climate model for the region. The geography is dominated by mountains and fjords, so what we need are high-resolution numerical weather prediction models. Otherwise we would not have been able to capture all the local differences.

Blue Action

Budget: about €8M. Funding agency: The European Commission. Project period: 2016-2020

The main objective of this EU project is: To actively improve our ability to describe, model, and predict Arctic climate change and its impact on Northern Hemisphere climate, weather and their extremes, and to deliver valuated climate services of societal benefit. I lead two tasks.

The first task is called Subseasonal-to-seasonal forecasting of severe weather, and is about finding out if severe weather such as polar lows is predictable on time scales of 10-90 days. We already know that individual weather events are not predictable that far ahead, but we want to check if the environments in which they form are predictable. For polar lows that would be cold air outbreaks, which I've studied a great deal with Tom Bracegirdle.

The second task is to apply the knowledge that we hopefully gain in the first task. We've partnered up with DNV GL to do this. What we want to do is to communicate and disseminate risks of polar lows by means of maps that will be tailored to high-level end-users and thus providing practical application of medium-to-long-range prediction of marine cold air outbreaks and polar lows, to limit risks for humans, business activities and the environment in the Arctic.


I'm the author of five books, 20 opinion pieces in Norwegian newspapers, and I've been interviewed many times by newspapers, radio and TV in Norway. Here's a list (in Norwegian).

Contact info

E-mail: [email protected]

Mobile phone: +47 411 22 457

Office phone: +47 555 82 432


Polar lows blog

Norwegian blog

Google scholar