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The UKESM LTSM project kick-off meeting - University of Reading, 4-5 July 2016

Colin Jones, NCAS and UKESM core group

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Close to 40 scientists involved in the NERC-funded UKSM Long Term Science Multi-centre (LTSM) project recently met at the University of Reading to begin work on this exciting new project. Participants from all eight of the NERC centres, as well as the Met Office Hadley Centre (MOHC), attended the meeting enabling an extremely productive start to the project.

The first day of the meeting was oriented around a set of invited presentations encompassing both the science aims and modeling/evaluation tools of the project. The morning was devoted to a status report on the development of UKESM1, the 1st UKESM model configuration intended for release at the end of this year, and the core physical model of UKESM1, HadGEM3-GC3.1. Following these presentations, Professor Jason Lowe (MOHC) presented plans within the CMIP6 ScenarioMIP project for a coordinated set of future Earth system projections. Following this, Dr Helen Brindley (NCEO) gave an overview of opportunities and methodologies for Earth system model evaluation with an emphasis on Space-based Earth Observation data. Professor Peter Cox (University of Exeter) presented the underpinning theory and gave a number of examples from the rapidly developing field of emergent constraint which aims to link the magnitude of simulated future Earth system feedbacks with observable modes of past climate variability. Through this link it is then possible to constrain model estimates of the future feedback based on their ability to reproduce the latter observable phenomena.

Following these presentations, emphasis switched to the various components of the Earth system, namely the terrestrial, marine, atmosphere and cryosphere domains, with talks highlighting their respective roles in the Earth system and Earth system change and the present modeling status of each domain in UKESM1. Presentations emphasized the importance of model evaluation for each domain and outlined a number of pertinent techniques for use in UKESM1 evaluation. Each presentation outlined how UKESM1 will contribute to relevant CMIP6 Model Intercomparsion Projects (MIP), ensuring UKESM1 application and evaluation is strongly linked to and contributes to wider international efforts in Earth system modeling. The first day concluded with a discussion on priority science areas and collaborations for the LTSM within the international and national landscape of Earth system science research.

Day 2 of the meeting was devoted to specific science and managerial planning for the LTSM, with break-out groups formed for each of the four component model domains where detailed plans for priority simulations and process-level evaluation were developed. Finally, the entire LTSM came back together into plenary: (i) To discuss approaches to evaluation of the full (coupled) UKESM1, emphasizing evaluation of interactions between model components and (ii) To develop a management structure for the entire project, including named leaders for each of the six Research Themes (RTs) of the project, development of a project Science Steering Committee (SSC), with representation from each of the partner organizations and, finally, agreement on the composition of an external project advisory board. Details on the membership of these bodies will appear in the next UKESM Newsletter.

The kick-off meeting was considered a success by all attendees and we plan for the entire project to meet once per year to present and discuss progress made across the project. Smaller focused meetings on specific areas such as component model development, model evaluation or targeted model application are envisaged to occur regularly between these annual workshops.

Presentations from the speakers at the meeting are available below:

UKESM-LTSM kick-off meeting presentations (PDF, 16·7MB)