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  • SPECS will undertake research and dissemination activities to deliver a new generation of European climate forecast systems, with improved forecast quality and efficient regionalisation tools to produce reliable, local climate information over land at seasonal-to-decadal time scales, and provide an enhanced communication protocol and services to satisfy the climate information needs of a wide range of public and private stakeholders. A core set of common experiments has been defined, to which most forecast systems will contribute. Another set of coordinated experiments, tier 1, includes the experiments that one or more forecast systems are planning to run. A standard seasonal experimental set up will consist of ten-member ensembles, with two start dates per year (first of May and November) over the 1981-2012 period and seven-month forecast length. The standard decadal experimental set up consists in five-member ensembles, starting on the first of November (or some time close to that date) of the years 1960, 1963, 1965, 1968, 1970, 1973, 1975, 1978, 1980, 1983, 1985, 1988, 1990, 1993, 1995, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2008, 2010, 2013, with a five-year forecast length. A description of the main experiments, with the minimum contribution in terms of start dates, forecast length and ensemble size follows: 1 - Assessment of the impact of soil-moisture initial conditions (seasonal): contributing EC-Earth, IFS/NEMO (ECMWF), CNRM-CM5 (MeteoF), UM, MPI-ESM (MPG); 2 - Assessment of the impact of sea-ice initialization (interannual); contributing EC-Earth (IC3), IPSL-CM5, CNRM-CM5 (MeteoF), UM, MPI-ESM (MPG) 3 - Assessment of impact of increased horizontal resolution (seasonal and decadal); contributing CNRM-CM5 (CERFACS, decadal; MeteoF, seasonal), EC-Earth (IC3, seasonal; KNMI and SMHI, decadal), MPI-ESM (MPG, seasonal and decadal), IPSL-CM5 (decadal), UM (seasonal and decadal); 4 - Assessment of impact of an improved stratosphere (seasonal and decadal) including interannually-varying ozone; contributing EC-Earth (KNMI seasonal with ozone; SMHI decadal), IFS/NEMO (ECMWF, seasonal), CNRM-CM5 (MeteoF, seasonal), UM (seasonal, decadal); 5 - Assessment of impact of additional start dates (decadal); contributing EC-Earth (KNMI, SMHI), MPI-ESM (MPG), IPSL-CM5. SPECS research has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under SPECS project (grant agreement n° 308378).