visualisation of atmospheric and oceanic flows

We construct advanced models of the atmosphere and ocean, which we deploy at high resolution, seeking to resolve the phenomena that underpin our understanding of weather and climate variability and change.

The main scientific question is: how do these fine mesoscale processes (loosely defined as “weather”) shape climate? We are therefore very invested and interested in understanding scale interactions within the climate system.

As well as studying these systems in high detail, using process-based diagnostics and metrics, we also use advanced visualisation to gain an overall picture of system interactions.

One of the recent models we built is based on HadGEM3-GA7.1, the current flagship climate model of the Hadley Centre, albeit developed for a resolution of 5km (on average) globally. Below you can see an animation of the Outgoing Longwave Radiation (OLR) at this resolution, for three ensemble members, initialised with slightly different initial conditions at the surface at time 0. We can only run such high resolution models for a few weeks, this time 1 Aug 10 10 Sep 2016, as part of the DYAMOND campaign.

Another model we recently developed is at half resolution (N1280, about 10km at 50N), and that means that we can perform longer-term simulations (mostly 5 years for each ensemble member), which are more suitable for the study of the climate system.


This animation shows several fields at the same time, with rendered clouds in white and greyscale, precipitation as a colour scale embedded in clouds, land surface snow in white and sea ice in pale azure colour.

Older Simulations

The next set is from our UPSCALE simulation campaign in 2012-2013, in which we used HadGEM3-GA3 at N512 resolution (about 25km at 50N).

The first animation shows a number of atmospheric and land surface features: from clouds (white to grey scale) to precipitation (colour scale, mimicking a meteorological radar image) to snow and ice at the surface. The colours in the ocean are Sea Surface Temperatures, which in this case are imposed from OSTIA-SST, as we used the AGCM version of our model.

Animation of atmospheric, land surface and cryosphere features in HadGE3 GA3 (UPSCALE). The OSTIA SST (colour scale in the ocean) were used to force the atmospheric model. Clouds (greyscale), rain (colour scale within clouds) and snow+ice (white colour on land, pale grey over the ocean) are dynamically produced by the model. Credit: P.L. Vidale, R. Schiemann and the UPSCALE team.

The second animation shows a number of oceanic features, mostly eddies and Tropical Instability Waves. This simulation was produced with HadGEM GC3.1, with NEMO as the ocean model (1/12 degree resolution) and HadGEM3 GA7.1 as the atmospheric model (25km resolution).

Surface ocean current speed as simulated by the NEMO ocean model at 1/12 degree resolution. NEMO is coupled to HadGEM3 GA7.1 at N512 resolution. Credit: M. Roberts, Met Office Hadley Centre.


The third animation shows the evolution of two tropical disturbances in the Atlantic ocean, one of which evolves into a full Tropical Cyclone, while the other moves North and undergoes extra-tropical transition. The model used was HadGEM3 GA3 as (25km resolution).

Animation of twin cyclones in HadGEM3 GA3 (UPSCALE). Credits: P.L. Vidale

Skip to toolbar