21st September 2021

Next Decade

Morning Plenary

09.30am - 12.00pm
Meeting the Challenge for Climate Science to Address Societal Needs

Professor Ted Shepherd FRS, Grantham Professor of Climate Science, University of Reading

There have long been calls for climate science to provide more “actionable” information. Yet on the whole the climate science enterprise is still configured very much as it was 20 years ago, with climate scientists producing information according to their traditional disciplinary standards. At the same time, there is growing awareness of the fact that the actual uptake of information on climate change by stakeholders is very poor. The World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) is the main body for international coordination of climate research, including the CMIP enterprise which underpins the IPCC assessment reports. In an effort to address this challenge, the WCRP has recently launched a number of “Lighthouse Activities” which aim to reconfigure the construction of climate information so that it is directly responsive to societal needs. In this talk I will describe these activities, which all take a risk-based perspective on different space and time scales.

Capabilities of Next-Generation Atmospheric Models: A Met Office Perspective

Dr Christine Johnson, Dynamics Research Scientist, Met Office

Supercomputing architectures are currently undergoing radical changes that our current modelling systems are unable to exploit. To take advantage of these new architectures, a new type of approach is required – an approach that has parallel processing at its heart and is easy to adapt to different types of processors.


The Met Office’s Next Generation Modelling Programme is developing its future atmospheric model using a technical infrastructure known as LFRic (named after L.F. Richardson) and a dynamical core known as GungHo. These enable a separation of the science code from the supercomputer optimization using automatic code-generation and use an unstructured mesh with mixed finite-elements and finite-volume transport.


By combining LFRic and GungHo with existing UM physics parameterizations, realistic 5-day weather and 1-year climate simulations have recently been demonstrated. These provide confidence that our next-generation atmospheric model is on target to transform from next-generation to this-generation!

Facilitating New Capabilities in Atmospheric Sciences: Earth-System Digital Twins

Dr Peter Bauer, Deputy Director, Research Department, ECMWF

Digital twins of the Earth system offer substantial progress in information quality, access and inter-operability. The goal is to create a digital replica through advanced data assimilation and simulation methods that invest in much enhanced spatial resolution, the full integration of impact sector systems in Earth-system models and a better fusion of observed and simulated data. Digital twins will unlock the potential of novel computing and data handling technology and use deep learning methods for accelerating production and facilitating information extraction. In late 2021, the European Commission will launch the Destination Earth initiative based on this approach for extremes prediction and climate change adaptation.

Machine Learning in the Atmospheric Sciences: A Review of the Opportunities and Challenges

Dr Samantha V Adams, Data Science Research Manager, Met Office Informatics Lab

Adoption of Machine Learning in many different domains has expanded considerably due to the increasing availability of large datasets and compute power. Machine Learning is already a familiar concept in the atmospheric sciences and techniques such as Generalised Linear Modelling (GLM), clustering, dimension reduction and even Neural Networks have been in use for many years. More recent Deep Learning methods have made impressive progress in solving hard problems in challenging domains (for example, image classification, object recognition and natural language processing) and these open new opportunities for the atmospheric sciences that will very likely revolutionize many areas including model development, data assimilation, post-processing and data analysis.

This talk will give a broad overview of some of the areas in the atmospheric sciences where Machine Learning is already being used as well as discussing future opportunities and challenges.

Afternoon Plenary

13.00pm -15.15pm

Changing Work Patterns and Future Challenges for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Dr Ruth Purvis, Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, NCAS and University of York

The workplace has changed dramatically over the last 18 months, but what does this mean for equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI).  COVID has affected scientists in different and potentially widened the gender gap but others found it a productive time – how do we level this up? As we move through to a potentially new way of working what does this look like? What are the challenges; the advantage; the EDI issues that may have to be faced.


It is well documented the environmental science sector is not very diverse, so what can be done to improve that and what can we do personally to make sure the it’s a welcoming and inclusive area for all to work.

Are We at a Turning Point in Atmospheric Science? An Early-Career Perspective

Simon Lee, Department of Meteorology, University of Reading

The current generation of early-career atmospheric scientists sit at what may be a unique turning point in the history of our science. Even in the last decade, climate science has reached the mainstream public and political consciousness in a way never seen, with knock-on effects on the type of research we do or, indeed, are able to do. Technological changes and the continuing explosion of atmospheric data mean the present-day early-career atmospheric scientist is spending more and more time learning to be a computational data scientist and programmer. Finding research output has become less like buying an album from a record store and more like online streaming. But is it still possible to make a hit scientific “album” in today’s world? In this talk, I will present some perspectives on the world that today’s early-career scientists are entering, asking: are we moving toward the limit of what we can do successfully?

This is How Science Will be Communicated in the Future:  What YOU Need to Do to Find and Keep Your Audience

Prof David M. Schultz, Professor of Synoptic Meteorology, and Director, Centre for Crisis Studies and Mitigation, University of Manchester

The landscape of the communication of science is undergoing remarkable transformation.  The popularity of geek culture makes it cool to be out as a scientist.  Yet, the flip side is the credibility gap between scientists and public. Scientists are providing a growing amount of engagement with the public through social media, but are also communicating to other scientists differently. The rise of open access and open science is changing the way scientists work.  Education is also changing because of the internet and the pandemic, placing a greater emphasis on high-quality and innovative teaching.  Students who graduate today will retire in the 2060s, meaning we need to consider carefully the kinds of skills we teach them.  This presentation provides a path for navigating these challenges, whether a researcher, educator, student, forecaster, or information consumer. Specifically, I focus on guidance for those looking to improve their skills now and for the future.

Afternoon Plenary

15.30pm - 17.00pm

Bigger, Faster, More: Meeting the Demands for Observations Without Damaging the Planet

Dr Barbara Brooks, Joint Head, Atmospheric Measurement and Observation Facility, NCAS

In recent years there has been an explosion in observational capability including in situ sensor technology, platforms and remote sensing techniques. Alongside this there has been an increase in the demand for observations at high temporal and spatial resolutions to support real-time informed decision making by a wide variety of expert and non-expert users, to feed the needs of the modelling communities and to meet the diverse aspirations of a highly engaged public. How we meet these demands without impacting on the environment we are trying to monitor is one of the greatest challenges of our times and a balance needs to be found between what observations can be made, what observations should be made and the full life cycle environmental cost of the activity. It is some of the questions that need to be considered to reach this balance that will be presented here. 

The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS): Atmospheric Composition Data for Europe and the World

Dr Antje Inness, Senior Scientist, Copernicus Department, ECMWF

The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) is implemented by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) on behalf of the European Commission to provide operational analyses and 5-day forecasts of global atmospheric composition, including aerosols, reactive gases and greenhouse gases. CAMS assimilates near-real-time satellite observations of key atmospheric constituents into ECMWF’s numerical weather prediction model. CAMS also operates an ensemble of regional air quality models over Europe to provide 4-day, daily forecasts of the main atmospheric pollutants at 10 km resolution. In addition to the operational products, CAMS has also produced a global reanalysis, currently available from 2003-2020, to provide spatially and temporally consistent 3-D fields of atmospheric composition. This talk will give an overview of the various CAMS products and then focus on the assimilation of sulphur dioxide (SO2) retrievals from the TROPOMI and GOME-2 instruments to highlight the challenges we face in predicting the location and transport of volcanic SO2 plumes.

The Future of Earth Observation for the Atmosphere

Prof John Remedios, Director of the National Centre of Earth Observation; Professor of Earth Observational Science, University of Leicester

The first two decades of this century have been rich in atmospheric observations from satellite, transcending chemical and physical variables. As these satellite missions have grown in their performance and longevity, so the atmospheric sciences community has generated both one-off research missions and longer-term, operational, multi-satellite series. The latter are hugely valuable for those studying long-term trends in climate gases or air quality whilst also contributing to the needs of services, national policies and international conventions.


This talk has two aims. Firstly, to illustrate some of the key aspects of current and past missions. What are they telling us about the atmosphere and how is that science maturing? It will describe how we are much better able to observe the large-scale evolution of atmospheric composition and disruptive influences. Particular examples will be drawn from new observations of sources of gases, from impacts of climate phenomenon through fire and pollutant transport, and developments in our knowledge of cloud systems.


Secondly, it will point forward to future missions which can excite us. Which satellites are highly likely to come into being  (already selected or extensions of operational missions) and which could come into being but need support? Which satellite measurements could be hugely influential for your science? What is the role of commercial providers of satellite instruments? The talk will address whether the next decade will be a new golden age for atmospheric science using satellites whether it be through advanced wind measurements, new accurate systems for determining climate gas fluxes, revolutions in time resolution of gas composition change or combined observations of radiation and cloud.