Publications


Stochastic modelling and energy-efficient computing for weather and climate prediction.

Philosophical transactions. Series A, Mathematical, physical, and engineering sciences 372 (2014) 20140118-

T Palmer, P Düben, H McNamara


On the use of inexact, pruned hardware in atmospheric modelling.

Philosophical transactions. Series A, Mathematical, physical, and engineering sciences 372 (2014) 20130276-

PD Düben, J Joven, A Lingamneni, H McNamara, G De Micheli, KV Palem, TN Palmer

Inexact hardware design, which advocates trading the accuracy of computations in exchange for significant savings in area, power and/or performance of computing hardware, has received increasing prominence in several error-tolerant application domains, particularly those involving perceptual or statistical end-users. In this paper, we evaluate inexact hardware for its applicability in weather and climate modelling. We expand previous studies on inexact techniques, in particular probabilistic pruning, to floating point arithmetic units and derive several simulated set-ups of pruned hardware with reasonable levels of error for applications in atmospheric modelling. The set-up is tested on the Lorenz '96 model, a toy model for atmospheric dynamics, using software emulation for the proposed hardware. The results show that large parts of the computation tolerate the use of pruned hardware blocks without major changes in the quality of short- and long-time diagnostics, such as forecast errors and probability density functions. This could open the door to significant savings in computational cost and to higher resolution simulations with weather and climate models.


The use of imprecise processing to improve accuracy in weather & climate prediction

Journal of Computational Physics (2013)

PD Düben, TN Palmer, H McNamara

The use of stochastic processing hardware and low precision arithmetic in atmospheric models is investigated. Stochastic processors allow hardware-induced faults in calculations, sacrificing bit-reproducibility and precision in exchange for improvements in performance and potentially accuracy of forecasts, due to a reduction in power consumption that could allow higher resolution. A similar trade-off is achieved using low precision arithmetic, with improvements in computation and communication speed and savings in storage and memory requirements. As high-performance computing becomes more massively parallel and power intensive, these two approaches may be important stepping stones in the pursuit of global cloud-resolving atmospheric modelling. The impact of both hardware induced faults and low precision arithmetic is tested using the Lorenz '96 model and the dynamical core of a global atmosphere model. In the Lorenz '96 model there is a natural scale separation; the spectral discretisation used in the dynamical core also allows large and small scale dynamics to be treated separately within the code. Such scale separation allows the impact of lower-accuracy arithmetic to be restricted to components close to the truncation scales and hence close to the necessarily inexact parametrised representations of unresolved processes. By contrast, the larger scales are calculated using high precision deterministic arithmetic. Hardware faults from stochastic processors are emulated using a bit-flip model with different fault rates. Our simulations show that both approaches to inexact calculations do not substantially affect the large scale behaviour, provided they are restricted to act only on smaller scales. By contrast, results from the Lorenz '96 simulations are superior when small scales are calculated on an emulated stochastic processor than when those small scales are parametrised. This suggests that inexact calculations at the small scale could reduce computation and power costs without adversely affecting the quality of the simulations. This would allow higher resolution models to be run at the same computational cost. © 2013 The Authors.


Addressing model error through atmospheric stochastic physical parametrizations: impact on the coupled ECMWF seasonal forecasting system.

Philosophical transactions. Series A, Mathematical, physical, and engineering sciences 372 (2014) 20130290-

A Weisheimer, S Corti, T Palmer, F Vitart

The finite resolution of general circulation models of the coupled atmosphere-ocean system and the effects of sub-grid-scale variability present a major source of uncertainty in model simulations on all time scales. The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts has been at the forefront of developing new approaches to account for these uncertainties. In particular, the stochastically perturbed physical tendency scheme and the stochastically perturbed backscatter algorithm for the atmosphere are now used routinely for global numerical weather prediction. The European Centre also performs long-range predictions of the coupled atmosphere-ocean climate system in operational forecast mode, and the latest seasonal forecasting system--System 4--has the stochastically perturbed tendency and backscatter schemes implemented in a similar way to that for the medium-range weather forecasts. Here, we present results of the impact of these schemes in System 4 by contrasting the operational performance on seasonal time scales during the retrospective forecast period 1981-2010 with comparable simulations that do not account for the representation of model uncertainty. We find that the stochastic tendency perturbation schemes helped to reduce excessively strong convective activity especially over the Maritime Continent and the tropical Western Pacific, leading to reduced biases of the outgoing longwave radiation (OLR), cloud cover, precipitation and near-surface winds. Positive impact was also found for the statistics of the Madden-Julian oscillation (MJO), showing an increase in the frequencies and amplitudes of MJO events. Further, the errors of El Niño southern oscillation forecasts become smaller, whereas increases in ensemble spread lead to a better calibrated system if the stochastic tendency is activated. The backscatter scheme has overall neutral impact. Finally, evidence for noise-activated regime transitions has been found in a cluster analysis of mid-latitude circulation regimes over the Pacific-North America region.


Lorenz, Godel and Penrose: new perspectives on determinism and causality in fundamental physics

CONTEMPORARY PHYSICS 55 (2014) 157-178

TN Palmer


Atmospheric science. Record-breaking winters and global climate change.

Science (New York, N.Y.) 344 (2014) 803-804

T Palmer


How Does the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation Affect the Stratospheric Polar Vortex?

JOURNAL OF THE ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCES 71 (2014) 391-409

PAG Watson, LJ Gray


Future projections of heat waves around Japan simulated by CMIP3 and high-resolution Meteorological Research Institute atmospheric climate models

Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres 118 (2013) 3097-3109

M Nakano, M Matsueda, M Sugi


Singular vectors, predictability and ensemble forecasting for weather and climate

Journal of Physics A: Math. Theor. 46 (2013) 254018

TN Palmer, L Zanna


Impact of snow initialization on sub-seasonal forecasts

Climate Dynamics 41 (2013) 1969-1982

YJ Orsolini, R Senan, G Balsamo, FJ Doblas-Reyes, F Vitart, A Weisheimer, A Carrasco, RE Benestad

The influence of the snowpack on wintertime atmospheric teleconnections has received renewed attention in recent years, partially for its potential impact on seasonal predictability. Many observational and model studies have indicated that the autumn Eurasian snow cover in particular, influences circulation patterns over the North Pacific and North Atlantic. We have performed a suite of coupled atmosphere-ocean simulations with the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) ensemble forecast system to investigate the impact of accurate snow initialisation. Pairs of 2-month ensemble forecasts were started every 15 days from the 15th of October through the 1st of December in the years 2004-2009, with either realistic initialization of snow variables based on re-analyses, or else with "scrambled" snow initial conditions from an alternate autumn date and year. Initially, in the first 15 days, the presence of a thicker snowpack cools surface temperature over the continental land masses of Eurasia and North America. At a longer lead of 30-day, it causes a warming over the Arctic and the high latitudes of Eurasia due to an intensification and westward expansion of the Siberian High. It also causes a cooling over the mid-latitudes of Eurasia, and lowers sea level pressures over the Arctic. This "warm Arctic-cold continent" difference means that the forecasts of near-surface temperature with the more realistic snow initialization are in closer agreement with re-analyses, reducing a cold model bias over the Arctic and a warm model bias over mid-latitudes. The impact of realistic s now initialization upon the forecast skill in snow depth and near-surface temperature is estimated for various lead times. Following a modest skill improvement in the first 15 days over snow-covered land, we also find a forecast skill improvement up to the 30-day lead time over parts of the Arctic and the Northern Pacific, which can be attributed to the realistic snow initialization over the land masses. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


Stochastic Parameterisations and Model Uncertainty in the Lorenz '96 system

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences Royal Society 371 (2013) 20110479

HM Arnold, IM Moroz, TN Palmer


REVOLUTIONIZING CLIMATE MODELING WITH PROJECT ATHENA A Multi-Institutional, International Collaboration

BULLETIN OF THE AMERICAN METEOROLOGICAL SOCIETY 94 (2013) 231-245

KJL III, B Cash, D Achuthavarier, J Adams, E Altshuler, P Dirmeyer, B Doty, B Huang, EK Jin, L Marx, J Manganello, C Stan, T Wakefield, T Palmer, M Hamrud, T Jung, M Miller, P Towers, N Wedi, M Satoh, H Tomita, C Kodama, T Nasuno, K Oouchi, Y Yamada, H Taniguchi, P Andrews, T Baer, M Ezell, C Halloy, D John, B Loftis, R Mohr, K Wong


Estimation of the local response to a forcing in a high dimensional system using the fluctuation-dissipation theorem

Nonlinear Processes in Geophysics 20 (2013) 239-248

FC Cooper, JG Esler, PH Haynes

The fluctuation-dissipation theorem (FDT) has been proposed as a method of calculating the response of the earth's atmosphere to a forcing. For this problem the high dimensionality of the relevant data sets makes truncation necessary. Here we propose a method of truncation based upon the assumption that the response to a localised forcing is spatially localised, as an alternative to the standard method of choosing a number of the leading empirical orthogonal functions. For systems where this assumption holds, the response to any sufficiently small non-localised forcing may be estimated using a set of truncations that are chosen algorithmically. We test our algorithm using 36 and 72 variable versions of a stochastic Lorenz 95 system of ordinary differential equations. We find that, for long integrations, the bias in the response estimated by the FDT is reduced from ∼75% of the true response to ∼30%. © 2013 Author(s).


The influence of tropical cyclones on heat waves in Southeastern Australia

Geophysical Research Letters 40 (2013) 6264-6270

TJ Parker, GJ Berry, MJ Reeder


Predicting multiyear North Atlantic Ocean variability

Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans 118 (2013) 1087-1098

W Hazeleger, B Wouters, GJ Van Oldenborgh, S Corti, T Palmer, D Smith, N Dunstone, J Kröger, H Pohlmann, JS Von Storch

We assess the skill of retrospective multiyear forecasts of North Atlantic ocean characteristics obtained with ocean-atmosphere-sea ice models that are initialized with estimates from the observed ocean state. We show that these multimodel forecasts can skilfully predict surface and subsurface ocean variability with lead times of 2 to 9 years. We focus on assessment of forecasts of major well-observed oceanic phenomena that are thought to be related to the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC). Variability in the North Atlantic subpolar gyre, in particular that associated with the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, is skilfully predicted 2-9 years ahead. The fresh water content and heat content in major convection areas such as the Labrador Sea are predictable as well, although individual events are not captured. The skill of these predictions is higher than that of uninitialized coupled model simulations and damped persistence. However, except for heat content in the subpolar gyre, differences between damped persistence and the initialized predictions are not significant. Since atmospheric variability is not predictable on multiyear time scales, initialization of the ocean and oceanic processes likely provide skill. Assessment of relationships of patterns of variability and ocean heat content and fresh water content shows differences among models indicating that model improvement can lead to further improvements of the predictions. The results imply there is scope for skilful predictions of the AMOC. © 2013. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.


Trapped mountain waves during a light aircraft accident

Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Journal Australian Bureau of Meteorology 63 (2013) 377-389

TJ Parker, TP Lane

On 31 July 2007 a fatal light aircraft crash occurred near Clonbinane, Victoria, Australia and the official investigation concluded that mountain wave turbulence was the likely cause. This study uses three-dimensional numerical modelling and linear wave theory to examine the dynamics of mountain waves during this turbulence event and their role in generating turbulence. Analysis of the observed environment and three-dimensional idealised simulations elucidate the occurrence of trapped mountain waves and their role in creating regions of enhanced turbulence in the vicinity of the aircraft accident. Specifically, these waves perturb layers of low dynamic stability in the upstream flow, promoting turbulence in those layers. A simple ensemble of these three-dimensional simulations is also used to assess the robustness of the model solutions and demonstrate the utility of high-resolution ensembles for explicit mountain wave turbulence prediction.


Climate extremes and the role of dynamics.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 110 (2013) 5281-5282

TN Palmer


Impact of snow initialization on sub-seasonal forecasts

Climate Dynamics (2013) 1-14

YJ Orsolini, R Senan, G Balsamo, F Vitart, A Weisheimer, FJ Doblas-Reyes, A Carrasco, RE Benestad

The influence of the snowpack on wintertime atmospheric teleconnections has received renewed attention in recent years, partially for its potential impact on seasonal predictability. Many observational and model studies have indicated that the autumn Eurasian snow cover in particular, influences circulation patterns over the North Pacific and North Atlantic. We have performed a suite of coupled atmosphere-ocean simulations with the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) ensemble forecast system to investigate the impact of accurate snow initialisation. Pairs of 2-month ensemble forecasts were started every 15 days from the 15th of October through the 1st of December in the years 2004-2009, with either realistic initialization of snow variables based on re-analyses, or else with "scrambled" snow initial conditions from an alternate autumn date and year. Initially, in the first 15 days, the presence of a thicker snowpack cools surface temperature over the continental land masses of Eurasia and North America. At a longer lead of 30-day, it causes a warming over the Arctic and the high latitudes of Eurasia due to an intensification and westward expansion of the Siberian High. It also causes a cooling over the mid-latitudes of Eurasia, and lowers sea level pressures over the Arctic. This "warm Arctic-cold continent" difference means that the forecasts of near-surface temperature with the more realistic snow initialization are in closer agreement with re-analyses, reducing a cold model bias over the Arctic and a warm model bias over mid-latitudes. The impact of realistic snow initialization upon the forecast skill in snow depth and near-surface temperature is estimated for various lead times. Following a modest skill improvement in the first 15 days over snow-covered land, we also find a forecast skill improvement up to the 30-day lead time over parts of the Arctic and the Northern Pacific, which can be attributed to the realistic snow initialization over the land masses. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


Systematic Model Error: The Impact of Increased Horizontal Resolution versus Improved Stochastic and Deterministic Parameterizations

JOURNAL OF CLIMATE 25 (2012) 4946-4962

J Berner, T Jung, TN Palmer


Useful decadal climate prediction at regional scales? A look at the ENSEMBLES stream 2 decadal hindcasts

Environmental Research Letters 7 (2012)

DA MacLeod, C Caminade, AP Morse

Decadal climate prediction is a branch of climate modelling with the theoretical potential to anticipate climate impacts years in advance. Here we present analysis of the ENSEMBLES decadal simulations, the first multi-model decadal hindcasts, focusing on the skill in prediction of temperature and precipitation - important for impact prediction. Whilst previous work on this dataset has focused on the skill in multi-year averages, we focus here on the skill in prediction at smaller timescales. Considering annual and seasonal averages, we look at correlations, potential predictability and multi-year trend correlations. The results suggest that the prediction skill for temperature comes from the long-term trend, and that precipitation predictions are not skilful. The potential predictability of the models is higher for annual than for seasonal means and is largest over the tropics, though it is low everywhere else and is much lower for precipitation than for temperature. The globally averaged temperature trend correlation is significant at the 99% level for all models and is higher for annual than for seasonal averages; however, for smaller spatial regions the skill is lower. For precipitation trends, the correlations are not skilful on either annual or seasonal scales. Whilst climate models run in decadal prediction mode may be useful by other means, the hindcasts studied here have limited predictive power on the scales at which climate impacts and the results presented suggest that they do not yet have sufficient skill to drive impact models on decadal timescales. © 2012 IOP Publishing Ltd.

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