The UK’s leading meteorological institutions have launched a new research program focusing on scientific advances to help facilitate reliable weather predictions up to a month ahead.
Backed by a £30m (US$36.8m) investment, the Advancing the Frontiers of Earth System Prediction (AFESP) research program will be managed by the University of Reading in partnership with the UK’s National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS), the Met Office, and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF).
AFESP commits to tackling the research challenges involved in extended-range weather forecasting – creating forecasts for up to four weeks in advance – with benefits for national and international meteorological services; industries such as agriculture, fishing and energy; and government decision-making around the world to protect lives and livelihoods.
Professor Pier Luigi Vidale, a senior climate scientist at NCAS and the University of Reading, said, “As well as delivering trustworthy extended-range weather forecasts, underpinned by solid understanding of the physical processes governing hazardous weather worldwide, this program will leverage the latest advances in exascale supercomputing to unleash the power of science to benefit society.”
The broader aim of the research program is to improve risk assessments, planning and resilience so that communities vulnerable to extreme weather will be much better prepared for what is to come.
Professor Rowan Sutton, research dean for environment at the University of Reading and senior climate scientist at NCAS, added, “Through this new research program, which has been developed over many years with our colleagues in the meteorological world, we are able to focus our pooled resources to make strides in physical, mathematical and computational sciences.”
AFESP will run multiple five-year cycles of funding for research projects, taking place alongside opportunities for early-career scientists. A 15-year doctoral training program will commence, with new students starting work each year. In 2023, 10 doctoral student (PhD) projects will be available with applications now open. Around 100 projects will be funded between 2023 and 2038.