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Cutting edge collaborative research – using climate data to advance understanding

Perhaps you saw my recent blog post about an upcoming University of Bristol-led hackathon, which was to be part of a series following the Met Office’s Climate Data Challenge in March. The University of Bristol hackathon took place virtually earlier this month and was opened out to all UK researchers to produce cutting-edge research using Climate Model Intercomparison Project 6 (CMIP6) data. The event themes ranged from climate change to oceanography, biogeochemistry and more, and, as promised, here’s what happened.

An enabling environment

The event wouldn’t have run smoothly without the hard work of the organising team including James Thomas from the Jean Golding Institute who set up all the Github documentation and provided technical support prior and during the hackathon event. The hackathon was also a great opportunity to road test a new collaboration space that the Centre for Environmental Data Analysis (CEDA) have developed to provide a new digital platform, JASMIN Notebook Service.

As part of the introduction to the event, Professor Kate Robson Brown, Jean Golding Institute director, spoke about data science and space-enabled data. This was an excellent talk especially in terms of making connections through data and training events – you can watch her speech here. If you’re interested in more on this, there’s a data week 14-18 June 2021 for University of Bristol and external participants with details here.

Collaborating for results

Altogether there were over 100 participants at the hackathon with people involved from across the Met Office Academic Partnership (MOAP) universities and the Met Office as well as participants from across the world. There were ten project themes for delegates to work around and, as with the Met Office Climate Data Challenge, I was astounded by how far the teams got over the three days. Given the CMIP6 theme, it was great to see many projects advance our understanding by updating and improving previous model evaluation and projection analyses with the new CMIP6 datasets.

Given the work that I am involved in at the Met Office on visualisation and communication, I was particularly impressed by the thought that went into making important Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) figures interactive. In three days, the team working on this managed to process data and produce a working demonstration that made the results pop out of the page.

Also related to my work on using climate data to understand impacts, another project which caught my eye looked at how the Artic Tern’s migration would be affected by changes in wind regimes and sea ice in the CMIP6 ensemble. Of particular note was the creation of a “digital arctic tern” to simulate their migratory flight path.    

What’s next?              

There’s lots more I could say about this excellent event, and many thanks to colleagues at the University of Bristol for hosting the hackathon. Now I am looking forward to seeing how some of the work will develop further in terms of journal papers and potentially being showcased at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow in November.



This blog is written by Dr Fai Fung, Science Manager at the Met Office and Senior Research Fellow at the University of Bristol.

Dr Fai Fung

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