GOTHAM - Globally Observed Teleconnections in Hierarchies of Atmospheric Models

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Oxford Physics


GOTHAM represents an ambitious research programme to gain robust, relevant and transferable knowledge of past and present day patterns and trends of regional climate extremes and variability of vulnerable areas identified by the IPCC, including the tropics and high-latitudes. It will achieve this by identifying the influence of remote drivers, or teleconnections, on regional climate variability, and assessing their relative impact. It will also assess the potential for improved season-decadal prediction using a combination of contemporary climate models, citizen-science computing and advanced statistical analysis tools. GOTHAM has the direct backing of many international weather and climate research centres, and will lead to the improved development of seasonal-decadal forecasts at the regional level. The improved knowledge and understanding of dynamical factors that influence regional weather and climate in the tropics/sub-tropics, and polar regions, will directly feed through to weather and climate forecast services to assist in their decisions on which priority areas of their model development to target in order to improve forecast skills. For example, GOTHAM will advise whether a model is missing or misrepresenting important global teleconnections that significantly influence regional climate in identified vulnerable regions. These impacts will be achieved through regular meetings with GOTHAM investigator groups and their extended collaborative networks, and extensive involvement in wider science and science-policy programmes with co-aligned strategies, such as the core projects within the WCRP. Improved seasonal to decadal scale forecasts will improve predictions of extreme events and natural hazard risks such as flooding that can have devastating impact on society. There is real potential for project results feeding through to impacts-related research, such as those involved in hydrological and flood forecast modeling, and these will be explored in liaison with identified partners in Asia and Europe.

Planned Impact

Beneficiaries of the GOTHAM project include national and international policy makers, stake-holder groups and non-government organizations (NGOs) involved in regional climate change mitigation and adaptation. GOTHAM will catalyze emerging countries' strengthened involvement in CMIP6 (e.g. IITM- India), and provide a focus for engagement of those countries' stake-holders at co-badged science-stakeholder and Community Focused meetings. Special sessions within select meetings will identify and seek to address stakeholder needs.

Existing numerical weather prediction centres e.g. Met Office, Meteo France, will gain useful process information for guiding the development of numerical weather prediction models, and improving near-time climate forecasts. Our identification of teleconnections and linkages to extremes will encourage particular attention to the related components of climate models and seasonal forecast models. It will also encourage renewed efforts to understand the fundamental equations of the Earth system, and investigate why observed teleconnections exist. These benefits will be achieved by involving Principal Investigators (PIs) and Project-Partners (PPs) having strong links to national weather and climate prediction centres (e.g. UK Met Office, US NCAR and Environment Canada - CCCMA, Meteo France - IPSL etc).

Business groups including those in the financial and (re-)insurance sectors will benefit from quantifiable improvements in risk evaluations of extreme events. These benefits will come through dissemination of project science, including the proposed application of advanced analytical methods to determining any changes to extreme weather event frequency. Our Project Investigators extended groups have had previous experience engaging with various user groups (e.g. PIK and the German energy sector).

Public engagement will be pursued via a results-driven blog on the GOTHAM project website and through connection with and their established volunteer community and media communications channels. For example, recent press-releases of the 2014 UK floods, extreme precipitation and heat waves in Australia and New Zealand, and the ongoing drought in the western United States, are just a few examples of how the Oxford weather@home and outputs have engaged the popular press in different countries and built up considerable citizen science awareness of regional climate change issues. This will be further pursued within the framework of GOTHAM, and in the context of the distributed computing experiments, with timely foci on: (1) extreme ENSO events and their global teleconnections, and (2) Asian circulation changes and their sensitivity to atmospheric teleconnections and anomalous sea-surface temperatures (SSTs). Details of the distributed computing elements of GOTHAM will be added to the website and RSS feeds will supply information on particular experiments when they are launched and distributed. New experiment information will also be posted on the user forum. Together with PIs at the relevant institutions, and weather@home will make wide and varied use of social media (Twitter, Facebook) and video sharing (YouTube) to launch the distributed computing experiments and communicate the objectives direct to public volunteers to the project, engaging volunteers to view results in real time as they are produced. PIs will be encouraged to publically launch experiments within their own countries (engaging with local media), thereby motivating their research and increasing volunteer numbers and hence creating project impact.


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Anstey J (2021) Prospect of Increased Disruption to the QBO in a Changing Climate in Geophysical Research Letters

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Anstey J (2020) The SPARC Quasi-Biennial Oscillation initiative in Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society

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Bushell A (2020) Evaluation of the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation in global climate models for the SPARC QBO-initiative in Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society

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Butchart N (2020) QBO Changes in CMIP6 Climate Projections in Geophysical Research Letters

Description GOTHAM has made a number of key advances including the discovery of a hitherto unknown mode of variability in the tropical stratosphere which impacts predictability of this part of the climate system and its teleconnections. This key study outcome is directly relevant to the projects central objective of understanding and capturing processes and teleconnections between high and low latitudes as the finding highlights a new mode of influence. The result will provide a new benchmark for future development of models and for understanding/predicting future events within a changing climate.

Another key outcome from GOTHAM is the finding that common model biases exist between contemporary climate models and their representation of tropical stratosphere variability. Furthermore these biases impact confident projections of stratospheric climate change and also sub-seasonal to seasonal weather forecasts. These results further underpin the projects objectives of improving predictability of this part of the atmosphere by highlighting where further model improvements should be focused. These results are currently underpinning coordinated international efforts to address these issues, and is led by GOTHAM partners and an expanded number of other modelling centres.

GOTHAM has provided modelling evidence in support of a projected weakening of tropical stratosphere winds. This is important as it points to future changes of (1) predictability of tropical stratosphere through possible disruptions to the regular cycling of winds and (2) the nature and strength of the coupling between low and high latitudes. Future disruptions such as was seen and documented in 2016 and 2019 will impact the limits of future seasonal predictability and also challenges our understanding of the processes involved. This project outcome will inform future research effort across the science community over the coming years.
Exploitation Route This fundamental research will feed into weather and climate forecast centres to improve model representation of tropical processes and thus improve both weather and climate forecasts.
Sectors Environment

Description GOTHAM has made significant contributions to climate policy via key project findings being included in drafts of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment Report 6. Further input to this report includes contributions to writing report sections (e.g. Chapter 2: Changing State of the Climate System) on themes directly related to GOTHAM. GOTHAM science has also led to increased focus of national weather and climate providers on GOTHAM issues and progress towards addressing these. This is evidenced by project partners leading work identifying areas for improvement in seasonal predictions, and metrics for gauging improvements being included in Earth System models (UKESM) used for future international assessment exercises such as the IPCC Reports.
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Environment
Impact Types Policy & public services

Description Global Teleconnections in the Earth's Climate System - Processes, Modelling and Advanced Analysis Methods 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Organized by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), the GOTHAM Summer School trained young scientists on a unique combination of interdisciplinary scientific topics and tools relevant for understanding teIeconnections and their role in causing extreme weather events. The school involved over 50 students and special guest lecturers, as well as being broadcast over the internet. The school comprised lectures as well as tutorial sessions by some of the world's leading experts in this field. The school received a large number of applicants which would encourage rerunning the school in the future.

The second GOTHAM Summer School was held in Beijing 9-13 September 2019. The summer school aimed to introduce global teleconnections in a variety of geophysical contexts and help young students and young scientists learn new techniques to identify these teleconnections (
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2019
Description Joint SPARC Dynamics and Observations Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact In 2017 a joint meeting organised by three groups within the World Climate Research Programme's (WCRP) Stratosphere-Troposphere Processes and their Role in Climate (SPARC) project was held in Kyoto to tackle outstanding questions of tropical teleconnections. This meeting attracted 74 researchers from 13 countries and focussed on identifying tropical teleconnections linking the stratosphere and climate phenomena elsewhere. The workshop was co-organised by members/partners of the Project and included partial travel funding for some project members and partners. At the workshop a community consultation exercise was undertaken via breakout groups, resulting in community agreement of future planned work.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017
Description Podcast: An atmospheric pacemaker skips a beat, a religious edict that spawned fat chickens, and knocking out the 'sixth sense' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Science Magazine podcast highlighting a study in Science reporting a disruption to the atmospheric QBO. A member of the Team participated in the podcast which also showcased other interesting science stories appearing in the weekly issue. The news coverage resulted in a number of enquiries requesting further information about the study.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016