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William Ingram

Researcher

I'm jointly employed by the Met Office Hadley Centre & AOPP. I spend some of my time in Oxford, some at the MOHC unit in Reading & a bit at MO HQ in Exeter. (My office in Oxford is 118, the last at the front on the 1st floor of the "old" AOPP building before the fire door into the Hooke building: if you follow the signs to the Hooke Meeting Room you'll pass it.)

My research interests are all to do with understanding the basic physics, mostly of the atmospheric response to climate change. This is of course the most relevant to society & policy-makers, but is also scientifically interesting, as it's looking at the response to a perturbation that indicates what the controls on the system really are. Much of my work uses General Circulation Models (GCMs), the most detailed & physically-based models of climate.

The research area I have worked on the most is the water vapour feedback on climate change. Water vapour is the most important greenhouse gas in our atmosphere, but its concentration is set by saturation at some point in the history of the air concerned, & the saturation vapour pressure increases strongly and quasi-exponentially with temperature. (The strength of this dependence is due to the high latent heat of vaporization, which in turn is due to the strong hydrogen bonding in the condensed phases, as are the high melting & boiling points for the molecular mass.) So we confidently expect global warming or cooling to increase or decrease its concentrations and so the greenhouse effect, adding to the warming or cooling - a positive feedback. Numerical calculations for decades have agreed that this roughly doubles climate sensitivity.

In recent years my work on the water vapour feedback has mostly been about the "partly-Simpsonian" approach. So naturally I have far too much to say about that to fit on this page. Apparently this website will eventually allow me to add a page about that: for now colleagues should be able to read http://www.atm.ox.ac.uk/user/ingram/pS.html & other people should be able to download it from pub/user/ingram/pS by anonymous ftp into ftp.atm.ox.ac.uk. (Let me know if it consistently doesn't work.)

I have also been involved in the formal detection & attribution of climate change. Colleagues know much more about it, but some people may find an introductory review I wrote, concentrating on the solar effects, some use.

One older paper of mine that may still be of interest looked at the impact on the water vapour feedback of changes in vertical resolution in a GCM. In the real atmosphere water vapour concentrations often show a lot of fine-scale variation in the vertical which is inevitably smoothed out in GCMs - & some people thought this cast doubt on the GCMs' water vapour feedback. I don't think this ever seemed plausible to people who understood the radiative physics, both because the total heat radiated is very much an integrated, smoothed, function of the profile, and because the near-logarithmic dependence on water vapour concentration of LW emission at water-vapour-dominated wavelengths means that the radiative change per unit warming hardly depends on the actual amounts, but rather on the fractional change in the amounts (determined by the quasi-exponential dependence on temperature mentioned above). But I showed that at least in one GCM, order-of-magnitude changes in vertical resolution didn't much change the water vapour response to idealized global warming.

One project I have been wanting to get done for a couple of decades is described on the "teaching" tab.

My best-known publication - most-cited, anyway - was led by my colleague Myles Allen, a review (with some original material) in Nature "Constraints on future changes in climate and the hydrologic cycle".

I've just acquired part-time (30% FTE) responsibility for providing scientific support for users and potential users of the UM in Oxford. This is the Met Office's Unified forecast/climate Model, one of the world's leading climate models as well as one of the world's leading weather forecasting models, which the Met Office makes available to the UK academic community. However, this powerful, and in many ways flexible, million-line program is not always user-friendly when first encountered.

There is a vast amount of official documentation, available alongside the code on the NCAS pages:
http://cms.ncas.ac.uk/wiki/UM
which should often be your 1st port of call - but that was written for MO staff working alongside experienced colleagues, & so is likely to be too detailed for someone who has never used the UM.
The "MONSooN" collaboration twiki:
http://collab.metoffice.gov.uk/view
also contains a great deal of potentially useful stuff. (You need to register to get access: bottom of its home page.)
I was going to link to some much more accessible descriptions of what such a model basically is & so what it can & cannot do, & what are the particular features of this one - but I haven't yet found any, so any suggestions very welcome!

I plan to add FAQs &c when I have been doing this long enough to know what people do ask - again suggestions are welcome, but I expect mainly I'll go by what people ask.

The UM is in some ways more a modelling framework than a single model. The MO itself has at times had major differences between its operational forecast models & benchmark climate models, and "standard" climate models of different generations co-exist. There are vast number of pre-supplied options you could change, & you can make any changes you want to the code. But of course in practice most users use standard configurations, or standard configurations plus a particular change they are interested in.

I do work full-time but 70% of the time is for other projects, & many working days I am not in Oxford, & of course I take holidays & go to conferences. So while I will try to reply promptly, please be realistic! The sooner you ask me about something the sooner you can hope to get things sorted - & some issues may be more complex than you think.
It's often best to talk face-to-face to start with. Thursday is the day I am most reliably in Oxford but it is often busy - but if you email me we can try to arrange to meet.

Note that my remit does not cover IT-related matters, though feel free to ask questions like "My UM run crashes with this error message - can you suggest why?" If you want to install the UM on an Oxford machine, UM_collaboration [at] metoffice [dot] gov [dot] uk will be far more use than I could be.
More generally, do feel free to ask me about any non-UM MO matters - as long as you are prepared for me to say "Sorry, but I don't know"!
(One area you might be interested in is the MO's climate datasets, which are documented & available at
http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/
though I understand this is being updated.)

Please always remember that the UM is not in the public domain - it is Met Office intellectual property and extremely valuable to them. We are licenced to use it for research purposes, but cannot pass it on to anyone who does not have a licence, or put it on a website or ftp site where anyone could access it. It may be appropriate also to tell the Met Office the results of your research (if it is not done in collaboration with them) - feel free to ask me who.

This year I'm teaching the 4th-year atmospheric & oceanic physics option, C5. The normal time is 3:30-5 in the Brewer Room on Thursday. For Trinity the expected weeks are 5th & 6th.

I also supervise research students.

One project I have been wanting to do for a couple of decades is finally under way:
The errors in GCMs (and indeed the related models used for weather forecasting) are often a matter of features being displaced. This is a particular problem for rainfall at low latitudes because it has smaller scales than e.g. temperature & because the physics that creates it has strong positive feedbacks on location. And of course much of the impacts of climate change will be felt through moisture availability rather than just temperature.
Adam Levy is now working on ways to correct these errors of location, adapting software used to line up ("register") brain scans for quantitative analysis, supervised by Myles Allen & me here in AOPP, and Mark Jenkinson, who is a leading authority on such software, in FMRIB. The point is not just to say "Oh, the error would be less if this rainband were in the right place like this" (though we hope quantifying "doing the wrong thing" v "doing the right thing but in the wrong place" will be useful to GCM development work), but to apply transformations derived from the present-day mean to both projections of the future & simulations of the past. We hope that in both these cases it will bring the GCMs together. This will make the results more consistent and physically-based, so reducing uncertainty for the future, and increasing potential to detect past changes in observations.
Preliminary results using the existing code showed it basically works, but of course rain is different from brains so various bits of new code were needed to do the job properly, which Adam has now written & tuned & is using & writing up.

I'm also now supervising Richard Millar, who is working on the physics of precipitation change under climate change and geo-engineering, specifically SRM (solar radiation management) using stratospheric aerosol.

My other employer, their library catalogue & observational data.
Part of the point of my being in Oxford is to help communication between Oxford & the MO, so if you're a colleague at either end &, say, are wondering if there's someone at the other end worth contacting about something, do please ask me.

Our learned society is The Royal Meteorological Society. It does a lot of good stuff, & I must take advantage of it more - particularly its meetings, listed at:
http://www.rmets.org/events/index.php

Other relevant seminar series near Oxford are ECMWF's, Reading Met's "departmental seminars" and less formal "lunchtime seminars", and
Imperial's seminars.

The authoritative sources of information on climate change are the Assessment Reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Inevitably they are somewhat bureaucratic, & never quite up to date, & may not cover well-established science that hasn't been seen as policy-relevant. They're supposedly aimed at non-specialists but only the "summary for policy-makers" really is. After the 1st they are supposed to be updates, so the 1st may be the best if you want the basics explained.

Here is Mike McIntyre's summary of how & why to be lucid.

Even if you don't have any interest in the history of our science for its own sake, sometimes the original paper is as clear as anything afterwards. Geoff Vallis has a page of classic papers that I find worth looking at, though naturally it's biassed towards his interests: "dynamics" (large-scale flow) rather than "physics" (the rest) or climate. MetSoc have a supposedly similar page but only including papers they published.
Both therefore omit Manabe & Wetherald 1967 which even by those 2 authors' standards has a great deal of physics & is as readable as ever, & Hansen et al. 1984 which introduced the quantification of feedback to our literature.

AOPP colleagues may find some useful stuff on computing &c on my old intranet page http://www.atm.ox.ac.uk/user/ingram/

My publication list is at
http://www.atm.ox.ac.uk/user/ingram/papers.pdf

And here are a few blogs - Isaac Held,
Ed Hawkins,
Angus Ferraro,
Steve Easterbrook &
William Connolley
- & Matt Clark's photostream.