Welcome to UK Earth System Model (UKESM) News from the Joint Weather and Climate Research Programme (JWCRP).

The UK Earth system modelling project is a joint venture between the Met Office and the Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC) to develop and apply a world-leading Earth System Model.

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UKESM Newsletter No.4 – January 2017


Improving aerosol processes and radiative forcing in preparation for UKESM1

by Jane Mulcahy, Ian Boutle, Ben Johnson, Colin Jones, Steve Rumbold and Alistair Sellar.

The version of HadGEM3-GC3 (GC3) intended as the physical model core of UKESM1 exhibited a strong, negative aerosol effective radiative forcing (ERF) over the historical period (1850 to 2000). This large aerosol cooling led to an implied total historical radiative forcing of close to 0Wm-2, at odds with the observed warming over this period. To address this problem a suite of improvements were developed for the atmospheric component of GC3, reducing the aerosol ERF and leading to an implied total historical ERF of ~1Wm-2. As well as reducing the aerosol ERF these model developments also improved the present day climate performance of GC3.1 compared to GC3. Read more…

HadGEM3-GC3.1: The physical coupled model core of UKESM1 now frozen

by Till Kuhlbrodt, Colin Jones, Ed Blockley, Helene Hewitt and Alistair Sellar.

HadGEM3-GC3.1 (GC3.1) constitutes the physical (ocean-atmosphere-land-sea ice) model core of UKESM1. This model was recently frozen at 2 coupled (atmosphere/ocean) resolutions, namely: N216/0.25° and N96/1°. The latter forms the physical core of UKESM1-lr and the former UKESM1-hr. In this article we briefly report some of the key performance metrics of GC3.1, with emphasis on the N96/1° configuration that will underpin UKESM1-lr, intended for use within the 6th Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6). Read more…

Using satellite remote sensing data for evaluating Earth system models: Plans for UKESM1 evaluation

by Robert Parker.

The National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO) is a NERC research centre with more than 80 scientists distributed across leading UK universities and research organisations. NCEO provides the UK with core expertise in Earth Observation science, data sets and merging techniques, and model evaluation to underpin Earth System research and the UK’s international contribution to environmental science. NCEO is a member of the UKESM Long-Term Science Multi-Centre (LTSM) project and will lead the model evaluation component of the project. Read more…

UKESM at the NERC Into the Blue Exhibition

by Alberto Muñoz.

A total of 5250 attendees across 5 days had the opportunity to visit our UKESM stand in the ‘NERC Into The Blue Exhibition’ at the Runway Visitor Park in Manchester last October. Around 40 exhibitors, including scientists and volunteers from all NERC Institutes, plus some UK Research Centres and Universities, showcased and engaged with adults and children on numerous aspects of environmental and natural sciences;  from marine DNA and biodiversity to climate change and atmospheric research. Read more…

Team News

Two new recent additions to the UKESM core group: Dr Rob Parker from the National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO) – University of Leicester, and Dr Antony Siahaan from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS).

Rob Parker, National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO) – University of Leicester: Rob joins the UKESM Core Group as part of the NCEO contribution to the UKESM Long-Term Science Multi-Centre project. He will be involved in the evaluation of UKESM models and coordinate research activities between the UKESM team and the wider NCEO/remote sensing communities. Rob’s background is in the generation of atmospheric concentrations of key climate-relevant species, particularly CO2 and CH4, from remote sensing data. He is currently approaching the end of a European Space Agency Living Planet Fellowship where he has investigated the temporal/spatial distributions of these greenhouse gases, identifying anomalies and linking them to the key geophysical drivers.
Antony Siahaan, British Antarctic Survey (BAS): Antony joins the UKESM Core Group as part of the BAS contribution to the UKESM project. He will be involved in the development, testing and evaluation of the sub-ice-shelf capability of NEMO to enable its coupling with the ice sheet component within the UKESM. Prior to joining BAS, Antony was with the NOC Southampton where his main responsibility was to support the ocean modeling capability within the Marine System Modelling (MSM) group such as running, testing and developments of some components in the NEMO ocean model. He was also involved in the preparation and testing of JOMP GO6 one-degree configuration.

Recent past events

2-4 November 2016 – Model Hierarchies Workshop, Princeton UniversityThe World Climate Research Programme sponsored a workshop which examined the construction of hierarchies of models in Earth System Science which was held at Princeton University on 2-4 November 2016.  The focus was on the way in which robust and uncertain features from simulations using comprehensive models (such as, for example, UKESM1) could be explained through simpler or more idealized models and experiments.  Jeremy Walton presented a poster at the workshop on the UKESM1 hybrid-resolution model (by Marc Stringer, Richard Hill, Mohit Dalvi, Colin Johnson, Jeremy Walton and Colin Jones) describing how a high-resolution atmosphere is coupled to aerosol, chemistry and tracer advection schemes, which are run at a lower resolution than the core model in order to achieve acceptable levels of performance for the full system.
15-16 November 2016 – ESMValTool Workshop, LudwigMaximiliansUniversitätworkshop on the technical development of the Earth System Evaluation Tool was held at Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich on 15-16 November 2016.  The ESMValTool is a community-based system which incorporates diagnostics and performance metrics for the routine evaluation of Earth System Models (such as, for example, UKESM1).The workshop aimed at defining a common strategy across participating institutions towards developing an efficient level of performance for ESMValTool in time for the analysis of CMIP6 simulations.  Jeremy Walton attended the workshop, along with other colleagues from the Met Office, and discussed his recent and future work on developing an integrated automatic documentation system for ESMValTool.
5 December 2016 – ACSIS Kick-off meeting at the Wellcome Auditorium, LondonThe North Atlantic Climate System Integrated Study: ACSIS, has been fully funded for five years (2016-2021) through NERC’s Long Term Science commissioning, led by NCAS Director for Climate, Professor Rowan Sutton. The science presentations from its kick-off meeting are now available on the ACSIS website – https://www.ncas.ac.uk/index.php/en/community-meeting-2016. Some important events for ACSIS in the first half of 2017 will include: the completion of the first ACSIS synthesis report on the state of and recent trends in the North Atlantic climate system, the first ACSIS airborne observing missions to the Azores, and the development of a first set of Atlantic Climate System Indicators.
 12-16 December 2016 – AGU Fall Meeting, San FranciscoUKESM was well represented at this year’s American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting (http://fallmeeting.agu.org/2016/). With over 20,000 participants AGU is one of the largest Earth science meetings in the world and provides an ideal opportunity to showcase the latest in UKESM science and interact with our international partners. Jane Mulcahy presented our investigations into the aerosol Effective Radiative Forcing in GA7 and resulting model improvements for UKESM in the session “Reducing Uncertainty in Aerosol Effects on Climate”. See ‘Improving aerosol processes and radiative forcing in preparation for UKESM1’ in this Newsletter for more information on this work. Debbie Hemming gave an invited overview talk on the UKESM project in the session “Grand Challenges in Earth System Modeling: Decadal Climate Variability and Change, Prediction, and Its Applications”. In particular she focussed on recent developments in the terrestrial carbon and nitrogen cycling (see ‘Nitrogen and the Terrestrial Carbon Cycle in UKESM1’ by Andy Wiltshire for more information). While Doug Kelley presented on the sensitivity of modelled burnt area to various controls on fire in the session “The Role of Fire in the Earth System: Understanding Drivers, Feedbacks, and Interactions with the Land, Atmosphere, and Society”.

 Upcoming events

 3-9 July 2017 – UKESM at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, London

We are pleased that our proposal to exhibit ‘What’s happening to our climate? – Earth system science in the UK’ at the 2017 Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition in London (https://royalsociety.org/science-events-and-lectures/summer-science-exhibition/) has been successful. For this event, the UKESM core group will team up with colleagues at NCAS, the Met Office Hadley Centre, the Universities of Exeter, Reading and East Anglia, as well as the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, to deliver an exceptional outreach activity on Earth system modelling across the UK.