GOTHAM - Globally Observed Teleconnections in Hierarchies of Atmospheric Models

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Oxford Physics


GOTHAM represents an ambitious research programme to gain robust, relevant and transferable knowledge of past and present day patterns and trends of regional climate extremes and variability of vulnerable areas identified by the IPCC, including the tropics and high-latitudes. It will achieve this by identifying the influence of remote drivers, or teleconnections, on regional climate variability, and assessing their relative impact. It will also assess the potential for improved season-decadal prediction using a combination of contemporary climate models, citizen-science computing and advanced statistical analysis tools. GOTHAM has the direct backing of many international weather and climate research centres, and will lead to the improved development of seasonal-decadal forecasts at the regional level. The improved knowledge and understanding of dynamical factors that influence regional weather and climate in the tropics/sub-tropics, and polar regions, will directly feed through to weather and climate forecast services to assist in their decisions on which priority areas of their model development to target in order to improve forecast skills. For example, GOTHAM will advise whether a model is missing or misrepresenting important global teleconnections that significantly influence regional climate in identified vulnerable regions. These impacts will be achieved through regular meetings with GOTHAM investigator groups and their extended collaborative networks, and extensive involvement in wider science and science-policy programmes with co-aligned strategies, such as the core projects within the WCRP. Improved seasonal to decadal scale forecasts will improve predictions of extreme events and natural hazard risks such as flooding that can have devastating impact on society. There is real potential for project results feeding through to impacts-related research, such as those involved in hydrological and flood forecast modeling, and these will be explored in liaison with identified partners in Asia and Europe.

Planned Impact

Beneficiaries of the GOTHAM project include national and international policy makers, stake-holder groups and non-government organizations (NGOs) involved in regional climate change mitigation and adaptation. GOTHAM will catalyze emerging countries' strengthened involvement in CMIP6 (e.g. IITM- India), and provide a focus for engagement of those countries' stake-holders at co-badged science-stakeholder and Community Focused meetings. Special sessions within select meetings will identify and seek to address stakeholder needs.

Existing numerical weather prediction centres e.g. Met Office, Meteo France, will gain useful process information for guiding the development of numerical weather prediction models, and improving near-time climate forecasts. Our identification of teleconnections and linkages to extremes will encourage particular attention to the related components of climate models and seasonal forecast models. It will also encourage renewed efforts to understand the fundamental equations of the Earth system, and investigate why observed teleconnections exist. These benefits will be achieved by involving Principal Investigators (PIs) and Project-Partners (PPs) having strong links to national weather and climate prediction centres (e.g. UK Met Office, US NCAR and Environment Canada - CCCMA, Meteo France - IPSL etc).

Business groups including those in the financial and (re-)insurance sectors will benefit from quantifiable improvements in risk evaluations of extreme events. These benefits will come through dissemination of project science, including the proposed application of advanced analytical methods to determining any changes to extreme weather event frequency. Our Project Investigators extended groups have had previous experience engaging with various user groups (e.g. PIK and the German energy sector).

Public engagement will be pursued via a results-driven blog on the GOTHAM project website and through connection with and their established volunteer community and media communications channels. For example, recent press-releases of the 2014 UK floods, extreme precipitation and heat waves in Australia and New Zealand, and the ongoing drought in the western United States, are just a few examples of how the Oxford weather@home and outputs have engaged the popular press in different countries and built up considerable citizen science awareness of regional climate change issues. This will be further pursued within the framework of GOTHAM, and in the context of the distributed computing experiments, with timely foci on: (1) extreme ENSO events and their global teleconnections, and (2) Asian circulation changes and their sensitivity to atmospheric teleconnections and anomalous sea-surface temperatures (SSTs). Details of the distributed computing elements of GOTHAM will be added to the website and RSS feeds will supply information on particular experiments when they are launched and distributed. New experiment information will also be posted on the user forum. Together with PIs at the relevant institutions, and weather@home will make wide and varied use of social media (Twitter, Facebook) and video sharing (YouTube) to launch the distributed computing experiments and communicate the objectives direct to public volunteers to the project, engaging volunteers to view results in real time as they are produced. PIs will be encouraged to publically launch experiments within their own countries (engaging with local media), thereby motivating their research and increasing volunteer numbers and hence creating project impact.


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Rajendran K (2016) Synchronisation of the equatorial QBO by the annual cycle in tropical upwelling in a warming climate in Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society
Schenzinger V (2016) Defining metrics of the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation in global climate models in Geoscientific Model Development Discussions