Next Generation Weather & Climate Prediction (NGWCP)

Programme overview

The Next Generation Weather & Climate Prediction Programme (NGWCP) was a major programme developed in partnership with the Met Office and the Science & Technology Facilities Council's (STFC) Hartree Centre.

The programme aimed to address key areas where scientific and technological advances offered opportunities to maintain UK leadership in environmental prediction.

Background & objectives

Technical developments in computing and in global scale observations create an environment of enormous opportunity for improving capabilities for weather and climate prediction, but there are major scientific and technical barriers to realising this potential.

This programme aimed to address two key areas where scientific and technological advances offer opportunities to maintain UK leadership in environmental prediction:

  • Goal A - Resolution of small scale weather systems in the atmosphere and ocean
  • Goal B - Use of observations to initialise climate predictions

Goal A

One issue requiring urgent attention was the selection of numerical algorithms currently used to simulate the atmosphere in climate prediction models. Many of these algorithms were unable to take advantage of the additional processing power of massively parallel computers moving towards petascale and exascale resources. The development of new algorithms involved research challenges in numerical and computational methods.

It was proposed that a consortium be created, between NERC, STFC and the Met Office to research, design and develop a new atmospheric dynamical core for a next-generation weather and climate prediction system, to eventually replace the dynamical core of the Unified Model (UM), the principal UK tool for weather and climate prediction.

The corresponding issues for ocean models appeared to be less immediately pressing, based on current understanding of needs. However, there was an important need to develop a longer-term view based on the emerging scientific requirements for ocean modelling (for example, integrated modelling of deep ocean and shelf processes), and a 'roadmap' of needs for massively parallel ocean modelling systems was developed.

This programme was essential to ensuring that the UK has access to world-class tools for climate prediction in the future.

Goal B

A second strand of this action supported research to develop and evaluate methods for initialisation of climate predictions, addressing issues of coupled data assimilation and the design of ensembles. For predictions of regional climate on seasonal to decadal timescales, much of the signal comes from internal variability of the system, rather than changes to anthropogenic forcing. Hence, climate predictions on these timescales inherently need to be initialised with the observed climate state.

The science of how to do this was at a very early stage of development and a number of fundamental questions must be answered in order to derive the most possible information from the available observations. The development of properly initialised climate predictions is central to exploiting the opportunities to improve climate models and predictions that arise from the wealth of new observations from Earth-based and space-based platforms.

Reports & key findings

A team at the National Oceanography Centre were funded to assess the development of ocean model dynamical cores required to meet operational and research needs on the timescale 2015-2025. This study produced a roadmap that will inform strategic decisions about future ocean model development.

The project ran from November 2010 to February 2012 and involved a range of opportunities for interested stakeholders (both UK and international) to engage with the project and contribute to the roadmap.

Ocean Roadmap final report (PDF, 1.7MB)

Ocean Roadmap final report - Summary (PDF, 91KB)

Ocean Roadmap final report - Executive summary (PDF, 18KB)