Thursday, November 27, 2014

BlueSkiesResearch.org.uk: Paris syndrome

 So, for two weeks we find ourselves in France. Gif-sur-Yvette on the outskirts of Paris to be precise, the location of the CNRS site where we are staying in the very impressive chateau de ville (preservation of which was apparently a requirement of taking on the site).
chateau-1

The visit is courtesy of Masa Kageyama at LSCE-IPSL-CEA-CNRS and our first lesson was to learn what all the acronyms mean and (roughly) how they relate to each other! The main focus of our trip is working on a joint paper which involves several people here, which is not yet ready for public unveiling but which may hopefully be the subject of future blogging. LSCE is stuffed full of paleoclimate scientists of note, including numerous IPCC authors and PMIP leaders and the like. So it was a little surprising to find it located on the site of a disused and slightly derelict corner of a nuclear research facility a little way away, with the offices lined up in what used to be a linear collider. It’s not quite as dystopian as it sounds, and the canteen is certainly a cut above what you tend to find in UK labs!

CNRS-1

We managed to arrive just as Masa had to go away to be somewhere else, so we spent our first day (and also our free weekend) mostly enjoying the pleasures of Paris. I was three years old last time I visited, so I was surprised how little it had changed, though everything looked a bit smaller than I remember.

Our work stay started off with a couple of informal seminars which then merged into a group meeting at which they all discussed their upcoming strike. As a one-time union rep it was interesting to finally find somewhere where unions actually do something. Vive la revolution! What with that and the food I wonder if I would have liked to live in France, though the prevalence of smoking remains a problem.

Our visit also coincided with this conference which we also attended, about which I’ll write separately. More importantly, significant progress on the paper has been made, and our last act before leaving will be to give another talk at Jussieu in central Paris tomorrow.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

[jules' pics] Travels

But where?!

It is a place where people have been known to lose their heads

foreign-5
And not just on the roads
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Where bicycles are very important. (Although you actually see more of them being ridden in London).
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Where the building that should be the opera house is actually the stock exchange
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Where they have taken the Boris Bicycle concept several stages further...?
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And where the picktur blogger is permanently drunk due to the local beverage coming in too large bottles; please scuse typos.

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Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 11/22/2014 08:50:00 PM

Sunday, November 16, 2014

[jules' pics] "Quit your jobs"

Seen from the platform at Pangbourne railway station, the graffiti on the fence in the background is probably aimed at the Thames Valley London commuters. But be careful of you do quit your jobs - you might end up like these two!
Quit your jobs


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Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 11/16/2014 11:32:00 AM

Sunday, November 09, 2014

BlueSkiesResearch.org.uk: The LGM – not finished yet!

Well, of course it’s finished in the temporal sense. But not in terms of scientific interest. This is perhaps the main conclusion of our latest review paper, which was published in QSR a few days ago. All followers of @geschictenpost on twitter (never miss an interesting paper!) will already be aware of this, but they might not realise that the full paper is freely available via this link until midnight on the 23rd Dec at which point it will turn into a pumpkin (ok, hide behind a paywall).

The review was invited back at the end of 2012, but at the time we were in the process of publishing some relevant work so we didn’t actually get round to writing anything until half way through 2013. We had fun over the summer chasing up some old papers that we had not previously seen, and even got a paper print of a CLIMAP reconstruction – which we were not allowed to remove from the library, or even copy! Conversations with several more senior scientists were helpful, including a few emails exchanged with Tom Crowley. And a reviewer added another perspective which was very helpful.

In the paper, we trace the evolution of model-data comparison for the Last Glacial Maximum, at least for surface temperature, talking about what has been achieved (the models and data agree to some extent on the broadest scales) and what issues remain (regional differences are large, not only between models and data, but also amongst different models and different interpretations of data). The LGM remains the gold standard for testing the ability of models to reproduce a climate state very different to the present day, thanks to the relatively abundant data and large, well-understood forcing. But as well as suggesting that models are basically on the right lines, the results of the simulations also suggest there is plenty of room for improvement.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

BlueSkiesResearch.org.uk: Cloudy Skies Research

Cloudy Skies Research
Posted: 03 Nov 2014 06:38 AM PST
Cloudy Skies Research might have been a more appropriate name, because it is on the cloudy days that we do the actual science. This is not only because of the large uncertainty in future climate change due to the lack of knowledge about how clouds will respond to the changing temperature.

Our Blue Skies policy is that on the days of blue sky we go out and make the most of the sky! Such a life plan would never work in places like Yokohama or Boulder, where there are far too many sunny days, but here in Settle it is not so hard to find a reasonable work-cycling balance… So, while the brave weekend warriors battled the conditions, we were crunching data. The following Wednesday the sun came out and we spent the day cycling the same route over the hills to Littondale and back. It was so sunny that we were able to eat lunch outside and were actually too hot!!! Well, OK, so were were wearing a lot of clothing…

blueskies tandem

 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The new UKMO computer

I was thinking that this seems reasonable enough:


but then Mat Collins tweeted that it will "will also be used for making more reliable climate projections" which is a bit of a hostage to fortune. (Though technically, it may take so long to check this out that we never know if he is right or not).

Way back in the mists of time senior scientists at FRSGC (as it then was) imagined that their new superduper Earth Simulator would solve all the problems of climate change...

As for weather prediction, it's easy enough to demonstrate experimentally that higher resolution has the potential to improve performance (even though computer power is far from the only influential factor). So I expect they can claim quite confidently that the bigger computer will improve this.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

[jules' pics] falling water

As well as ocean swell, there are other after effects of storms. One is the amount of water falling in the water falls. I actually didn't know we live near a waterfall until this week. It is Scaleber Force, and only 1.3 miles from our house (although up a stupidly steep hill). I learned later that it is a top photography spot, so it is lucky that James encouraged me to take my camera along just in case there was something to see.
waterfall-1
waterfall-2
waterfall-3
This photo was taken at the same place, looking downstream,


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Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 10/23/2014 06:55:00 PM

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

[jules' pics] Autumn colours

Another storm yesterday, and the autumn colours are not going to last much longer. Better blog them while I still can.
autumn leaves


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Posted By Blogger to jules' pics at 10/21/2014 10:42:00 PM

Saturday, October 18, 2014