Extreme weather in the tropics


Extreme weather in the tropics


Project Description


Prof Adrian Matthews (UEA Environmental Sciences)

Prof Dave Stevens (UEA)

Prof Manoj Joshi (UEA)

Dr Ben Webber (UEA)

Scientific background

Extreme weather in the tropics, particularly in the form of heavy rainfall and strong winds, can affect the livelihoods of the local population through flooding, landslides and impacts on agriculture and local infrastructure.  Such extreme weather in the tropics is controlled to a large part by large scale weather patterns such as convectively coupled equatorial Kelvin waves (Figure 1), the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) or El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO).  Although the broad features of these tropical weather patterns are known, their impact on extreme weather is not; this represents a major gap in our understanding of tropical weather.

Research methodology

You will determine the effect of tropical weather patterns on extreme weather.  Initially, this will involve analysis of state-of-the-art satellite data sets that measure rainfall every 3 hours across the whole tropics.  You will then conduct sets of experiments with an atmospheric climate model to determine what factors generate and influence these tropical waves.

Training and research environment

You will join an active research group at UEA in tropical meteorology and climate.  You will be trained in meteorological and climate theory, and in the theoretical and practical aspects of meteorological analysis of very large data sets, and computer modelling of weather and climate.  You will have the opportunity to present your work at national and international conferences.  There will also be an opportunity to take part in the international TerraMaris field campaign in Indonesia in 2019/20, led by Prof. Adrian Matthews at UEA, with partners at University of Reading and Leeds, the UK Met Office, and Indonesian agencies.

Person specification

We seek an enthusiastic, pro-active student with strong scientific interests and self-motivation.  You will have a degree in physics, mathematics, meteorology, oceanography or environmental science with good numerical ability.

Figure 1. Maps showing the eastward progression of rainfall (red colours) across Indonesia associated with the passage of a convectively coupled equatorial Kelvin wave. 




  • Baranowski DB, Flatau MK, Flatau PJ, Matthews AJ, 2016: Impact of atmospheric convectively-coupled Kelvin waves on upper ocean variability. J. Geophys. Res., 121, 2045-2059.
  • Baranowski DB, Flatau MK, Flatau PJ, Matthews AJ, 2016: Phase locking between atmospheric convectively coupled equatorial Kelvin waves and the diurnal cycle of precipitation over the Maritime Continent.Geophys. Res. Lett., 43, 8269-8276.
  • Joshi M, Stringer M, van der Wiel K, O'Callaghan A, Blackburn M, Fueglistaler S, 2014: IGCM4: A fast, parallel and flexible intermediate climate model. Geosci. Model Develop. Disc., 7, 5517-5545.
  • Matthews AJ, Pickup G, Peatman SC, Clews P, Martin J, 2013: The effect of the Madden-Julian Oscillation on station rainfall and river level in the Fly River system, Papua New Guinea. J. Geophys. Res., 118, 10926-10935.
  • Wheeler M, Weickmann KM, 2001: Real-time monitoring and prediction of modes of coherent synoptic to intraseasonal tropical variability. Mon. Weath. Rev., 129, 2677-2694.

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