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Newsletter 15 – July 2022


UKESM develops, applies and analyses UK Earth system models to deliver projections of future change

TerraFIRMA – Future impacts, risks and mitigation actions in a changing Earth system

Please note that we will move to a fully web-based newsletter from the next edition (instead of web and pdf versions)


From UKESM to UKESM and TerraFIRMA

The UKESM newsletter is now the UKESM and TerraFIRMA newsletter. Find out more about our new NERC funded project, TerraFIRMA.

Future Projections over Antarctica from UKESM1.0-ice simulations

In this article, we give a brief overview of some new results for Antarctica based on some future projection simulations made with the model, UKESM1.0-ice. Results demonstrate the promising capabilities that UKESM1.0-ice has for further research into Earth system projection simulations and hint at some important areas of future work needed to reduce the sea level rise projection uncertainty. Read this article.

Using Machine Learning to Characterize Biomes

A reliable method for the characterization of biomes (a community of plants with similar characteristics) and their dynamics would be helpful when looking for signs of climate change. Current methods are not easily scalable to climate temporal and spatial scales, so the team investigated biome characterisation through machine learning techniques and found that these techniques demonstrated a strong potential for advancing our understanding in Earth system science. Read this article.

Visualization of Uncertainty in Climate Models

A sprint hackathon, organised by the Met Office, stimulated one team to look at visualizing climate model uncertainties by using a bullseye chart. Here’s how they approached it and what they produced using temperature and precipitation data. Read this article.


UKESM Release Notes – Update

Jeremy Walton1,2 and Ros Hatcher3

1UKESM core group; 2Met Office Hadley Centre for Climate Science and Services, Exeter, UK; 3Computational Modelling Services, NCAS, University of Reading, UK

The release notes for the UK Earth System Model (UKESM) document the model for users, explaining how it works and how to run it.  Previously, they were housed on a wiki at the NCAS Computational Modelling Services site, but have recently been moved to a new location as part of the upgrade of that site.  The landing page for UKESM is now

The notes have also been updated to reflect the addition of version 1.1 of the model; release notes for version 1.0 are also available from the same location.  For each version, the atmosphere-only (AMIP) and fully coupled configurations for the CMIP6 pre-industrial control and historical experiments are described.  In addition, the notes give instructions for creating configurations for the abrupt4xCO2 and 1%CO2 experiments using the pre-industrial control configuration as a starting point.

The notes contain links to the Rose suite for each configuration (whether AMIP or coupled).  Each suite is set up to run by default on the Met Office HPC, and there are detailed instructions on how to change its settings for submission to other machines – specifically, Monsoon2 (the Met Office / NERC collaborative platform) and ARCHER2 (the NERC platform).

Finally, the notes for each version of the model contain links to datasets from CMIP6 experiments (specifically from the DECK, historical and ScenarioMIP) that have been run using that model version and which have been archived on the Earth System Grid Federation.  The notes for UKESM1 also link to the documentation paper (and standard reference) for the model; a link to the documentation paper for UKESM1.1 will be added to its notes page when it is published.

Developing UKESM2, latest updates…. July 2022

The development of UKESM2 is now well underway. The Global Coupled 5 (GC5) configuration of the HadGEM3 physical climate model, which will underpin UKESM2, has been frozen. This model includes changes to almost all areas of model physics, including updates to the semi-lagrangian advection and convection schemes; the implementation of a bimodal cloud scheme, dust dependent ice-nucleation temperature, aerosol updates, a new sea-ice model and major upgrades to the NEMO ocean model. The physical climate model development focusses largely on the higher resolution configuration, which has a horizontal resolution of about 60km in the atmosphere with 85 vertical levels (N216L85) and 0.25deg horizontal resolution in the ocean with 75 vertical level (ORCA025L75). This resolution is too expensive for many applications of the UKESM models (although we are exploring running UKESM at higher resolutions where we feel it’s important through our hybrid resolution work) and so in recent months the UKESM core group has been actively developing the N96ORCA1 configuration (135km horizontal resolution in the atmosphere; 1deg in the ocean, vertical resolutions remain the same). The science in this configuration remains fully traceable to its N216ORCA025 counterpart but some retuning was needed to bring the net radiation at the top-of-atmosphere into a suitable balance for both present-day and pre-industrial conditions. A pre-industrial control simulation has been set-up and is now running. A small number of climate change experiments are planned which will feed into the GC5 assessment activity and workshop to be held at the Met Office in Autumn 2022.

In parallel to GC5 activities, the core group has also been busy building an Earth System prototype configuration on top of GC5. This is a complicated technical task coupling all the current Earth System components (interactive UKCA chemistry, TRIFFID vegetation, terrestrial carbon and nitrogen cycles and marine biogeochemistry) onto the GC5 model and technically preparing for the inclusion of the interactive ice sheet model which will be implemented at a later stage in UKESM2 development. Scientific evaluation of this configuration is now underway and once ready, will be form the base configuration into which we will implement new UKESM2 developments. These include the already mentioned interactive ice sheet model, an interactive fire model, CO2 and CH4 emission driven capabilities and nitrate aerosol to name but a few. We expect to start incorporating these new developments later in the summer, so watch this space….

New UKESM Team Member

Kaitlin Naughten (BAS)

Kaitlin Naughten joined the UKESM core group in April 2022. As part of the TerraFIRMA National Capability project, she will be studying Antarctic ice, ocean, and climate interactions, and further developing the ice sheet-ocean coupling in the UKESM. Kaitlin is based at the British Antarctic Survey, where her previous work has focused on ice shelves in the Amundsen and Weddell Seas, and their response to climate change. She co-developed the regional coupled ice sheet-ocean model ÚaMITgcm, and also has experience with the ocean models ROMS, FESOM, and MOM.   

TerraFIRMA – First General Assembly in 2022

Around 50 people attended the TerraFIRMA kick-off meeting in May 2022 at UKCEH Wallingford in person, with another 20-30 people participating online. It was great to meet up with colleagues, some of who we hadn’t seen for a long time and others that are new collaborators. We were delighted that stakeholders from ESA, UKHSA, CCC and BEIS could join the meeting and provide their perspectives on societal and environmental impacts, such as, water resources, air quality and global sea level rise.

Presentations by Colin Jones (project coordinator) and the work package leads provided an overview of plans for the programme. Andy Wiltshire from the Met Office Hadley Centre gave an overview of how the Met Office will be involved in an ongoing partnership with NERC centres through TerraFIRMA to develop UKESM2 and exploit science opportunities that arise. Jane Mulcahy (Met Office Hadley Centre) and Till Kuhlbrodt (NCAS) updated participants on the status and proposed developments of HadGEM3-GC5 and UKESM2 (see the update on UKESM2 in this newsletter). Colin Jones presented a brief overview of the other multi-centre programmes funded by NERC at the same time as TerraFIRMA, highlighting where there may be opportunities for collaboration.

Discussions and detailed planning took place in a series of breakout groups during the meeting. Breakout groups covered four of the workpackages, as well as domains (ice, atmosphere, ocean and land) and cross-cutting themes (machine learning, future scenarios and projections for TerraFIRMA, and Societal impacts; potential for collaboration with other LTSM2 projects). A summary of the breakout discussions provides some of the detailed plans going forwards.

Currently, TerraFIRMA features on the UKESM website with a TerraFIRMA web site coming in late summer 2022. Please follow TerraFIRMA on Twitter @TerraFIRMAclim8 to catch the latest news on the programme.

ESM2025 General Assembly in Paris

UKESM is part of an EU Horizon 2020 project, esm2025, that aims to build a novel generation of Earth system models fitted to support the development of mitigation and adaptation strategies in line with the commitments of the Paris Agreement.

In June 2022, over 100 researchers and project participants came together at the first General Assembly at the Jussieu Campus of Sorbonne University in Paris. Participants discussed achievements over the first year of the project and held workshops to plan details of forthcoming work.

Participants at the esm2025 General Assembly in Paris.
Participants at the esm2025 General Assembly in Paris.

The General Assembly provided an opportunity to connect to key stakeholders through our first World Café event. Informal discussions between researchers and stakeholders helped to establish links, share knowledge and build on the research undertaken in the project to help support climate action.

The first esm2025 World Cafe with stakeholders and researchers in Paris.


Explainable Clustering Applied to the Definition of Terrestrial Biomes

Tropical methane emissions explain large fraction of recent changes in global atmospheric methane growth rate

Comparative multifractal analysis of methane gas concentration time series in India and regions within India

Biological Carbon Pump Sequestration Efficiency in the North Atlantic: A Leaky or a Long-Term Sink?

An integrated analysis of contemporary methane emissions and concentration trends over China using in situ and satellite observations and model simulations

MODIS Vegetation Continuous Fields tree cover needs calibrating in tropical savannas

On the Treatment of Soil Water Stress in GCM Simulations of Vegetation Physiology

Methane emissions in the United States, Canada, and Mexico: evaluation of national methane emission inventories and 2010-2017 sectoral trends by inverse analysis of in situ (GLOBALVIEWplus CH4 ObsPack) and satellite (GOSAT) atmospheric observations

Remotely sensed carotenoid dynamics improve modelling photosynthetic phenology in conifer and deciduous forests

Large Methane Emission Fluxes Observed From Tropical Wetlands in Zambia

Retrieval of greenhouse gases from GOSAT and GOSAT-2 using the FOCAL algorithm

Evaluation of SO2, SO42- and an updated SO2 dry deposition parameterization in the United Kingdom Earth System Model

The Physical Climate at Global Warming Thresholds as seen in the UK Earth System Model