SOCRATES: Understanding processes that control Southern Ocean clouds


SOCRATES: Understanding processes that control Southern Ocean clouds


Project Description


Dr Andrew Orr (British Antarctic Survey)

Prof Ian Renfrew (UEA Environmental Sciences)

Dr Tom Lachlan-Cope (BAS)

Prof Paul Field (Met Office)

Prof Greg McFarquhar (University of Oklahoma)


Scientific background

The Southern Ocean (SO) stores huge amounts of heat, carbon dioxide, and nutrients, and influences the atmospheric and oceanic circulation of the entire Southern Hemisphere and beyond. Clouds have an enormous influence on both the atmospheric and oceanic circulation by controlling the amount of solar energy reaching the Earth’s surface, and have a major role in determining the climate’s sensitivity to change (a measure of how much the climate could warm in response to the release of greenhouse gases). Yet large cloud biases over the SO are a long-standing problem in climate models, resulting in uncertain estimates of climate sensitivity and impeding accurate climate projections. This stems from poor physical understanding of key physical processes in the SO, such as cloud-aerosol interactions. The goal of the major international SO Clouds, Radiation, Aerosol Transport Experimental Study (SOCRATES) is to provide measurements to understand these processes and support the improvement of climate model simulations.

Research methodology

You will work with observations from SOCRATES to improve our understanding of the processes that influence clouds over the SO, as well as the relationships between cloud microphysics and the surface radiation budget. The observations are from a variety of instruments on-board aircraft, ships and satellites. You will use this new knowledge to explore the deficiencies in the representation of SO cloud processes in the state-of-the-art UK Met Office climate model by running case studies based upon the SOCRATES observational data, as well as develop appropriate methods to overcome these deficiencies. To integrate your work within the wider SOCRATES program you will also attend their science team meetings in the USA.


You will receive excellent supervision and training in climate modelling, atmospheric physics, data analysis and the SOCRATES dataset (which will require you to visit the University of Oklahoma). You will learn how to run and develop the UK Met Office climate model.

Person specification

The candidate should have a strong interest in climate science, particularly developing and running climate models. They should have excellent numerical and computational skills, and be highly motivated, self-reliant and ambitious.

The successful candidate will be registered for a PhD in the University of East Anglia’s School of Environmental Sciences.


  • Bodas-Salcedo, A., P. G. Hill, K. Furtado, K. D. Williams, P. R. Field, J. C. Manners, and P. Hyder, ‘Large contribution of supercooled liquid clouds to the solar radiation budget of the Southern Ocean’, Journal of Climate., 29, 4213-4228, 2016.
  • Trenberth, K. E., and J. T. Fasullo, ‘Simulation of present day and 21st century energy budgets of the southern oceans’, Journal of Climate, 23, 440-454, 2010.
  • McFarquhar, G., and co-authors, ‘Ice properties of single-layer stratocumulus during the Mixed-Phase Arctic Cloud Experiment: 1. Observations’, Journal of Geophysical Research, 112, 2007.
  • Lachlan-Cope, T., C. Listowski, and S. O’Shea, ’The microphysics of clouds over the Antarctic Peninsula – Part I: Observations’, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 16, 15605-15617, 2016.

Open for Applications

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