Development of a Met Office NERC cloud model (MONC)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Department Name: Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre


Very high resolution (~10 to 50 m) modelling of clouds, precipitation and cloud feedbacks is one of the tools that is used very effectively to further our understanding of the interactions of aerosol, clouds and radiation processes.

Within the UK one tool that is regularly used to conduct such research is the Met Office Large Eddy Model (LEM). The LEM and data generated by the LEM has been fundamental in the development and testing of the core functionalities in UK's main weather forecasting software, the Unified Mode (UM). As well as having a direct impact on the further development of the UM, over the past two decades the LEM has been regularly used by the Met Office and NERC scientists to conduct fundamental research into turbulence, clouds, convection and radiation.

The aim of this project is to use the LEM as a basis for the creation a Met Office/NERC cloud model (MONC). The development of MONC will address any shortcomings of the LEM, as well as upgrade and modernise its current structure with a view to enabling it on modern supercomputers.

Planned Impact

The development of the Met Office NERC cloud (MONC) model will result in a very high resolution (~2 to 50 meters), flexible and portable cloud modeling framework. It will supported and administered through collaboration between the National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS), and the UK Met Office. MONC will be developed from the UK Met Office LEM, which over the past two decades has been a very important tool for fundamental research and parametrisation development in cloud microphysics, turbulence and aerosol-cloud interactions within the UK. The development of MONC will ensure that this tool is maintained and enhanced for the NERC atmospheric science community. The new model will be designed in such a way so that it will capitalise on future enhancements in massively parallel processing (MPP) architectures, which will benefit all present and future Met Office and NERC users. More specifically the code architecture of MONC will enable very high resolution modelling of important atmospheric science problems e.g. high resolution (~10s of metres) large domain convection research or high resolution (~1s metres) stable boundary layer research, which with present LEM could not be tackled. This development will benefit parametrisation development within the NERC community and the Met Office, by providing a modern parallel numerical model, that is easy to set-up, modify and use and is portable across parallel systems in the UK. There is already significant interest within NCAS for the development of such a model. Th MONC model will also be an important tool for testing atmospheric dispersion problems and assumptions in parametrisations, and hence it will benefit the air quality and air dispersion communities in the UK. In addition to the modelling community, the development of the user friendly MONC model, will be of benefit to the observational community in that it will provide a system that can be easily used by observational scientists to test theories and compare with data. Thus, the MONC model should enhance pull-through of science from the atmospheric observational community. Finally, and importantly, the development of MONC will directly enable more effective collaboration between the Met Office and NERC by the development and a Met Office-NERC system. It will also indirectly enable collaboration by harmonising the MONC systems with the UM systems, where possible. Where applicable this will make the pull-through of NERC science to the Met Office UM more efficient.


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Brown N (2015) A Highly Scalable Met Office NERC Cloud Model in Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Exascale Applications and Software

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Brown N (2018) In situ data analytics for highly scalable cloud modelling on Cray machines in Concurrency and Computation: Practice and Experience

Description The UK Met Office uses software to create its weather forecasts. This software simulates the behaviour of weather using complex mathematical models. These models can use information about past weather to forecast future weather. When run on super-computers these models can create forecasts down to very small distances. These detailed forecasts not only help to improve our understanding of climate, they are valuable for many public institutions and companies. For example, a forecast of fog down to the nearest metre is of great value to airports and airlines.

The MONC software that was developed in this grant is a complete rewrite and reengineering of the Met Office's Large Eddy Model (LEM) which is over 30 years old. MONC preserves the LEM's underlying science and provides a flexible community model that can exploit modern supercomputers.
Exploitation Route MONC is being adopted by a few atmospheric sciences research groups across the UK through an early release. The plan is to release the software more widely in due course, once the early adoption phase has passed.
Sectors Other

Description The MONC software will replace the older LEM model at the Met Office.
Description ARCHER eCSE
Amount £61,014 (GBP)
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 09/2015 
End 12/2016
Description Software Sustainability Institute Open Call
Amount £30,000 (GBP)
Organisation University of Edinburgh 
Department UK Software Sustainability Institute
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 01/2016 
End 03/2016
Description Article in EPCC Newsletter 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Article in the EPCC Newsletter, written by one of our Met Office collaborators. The article describes the development of MONC, the Met Office/NERC Cloud model, in a collaboration between EPCC and the Met Office.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
Description Keynote at Pervasive Parallelism CDT & EPCC Industry Engagement Event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact This Industrial Engagement Event is co-hosted by the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Pervasive Parallelism and EPCC (the supercomputing centre based at the University of Edinburgh). The goal of the event is to match students with industry partners for internships, project placements and other collaborations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
Description Talk at ECMWF Scalability workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Talk resulted in discussion with next generation weather forecasting development groups.

Meeting with Gung-Ho project scheduled for December 2014.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014