Surface and sub-surface processes

Representing surface processes in a numerical forecasting model involves linking the model's atmospheric boundary layer scheme with its surface schemes and determining the structure of the very lowest part of the boundary layer, known as the surface layer. A prerequisite for improving the representation of these processes in models is building a good physical picture of behaviour at the surface. Observational studies play a prominent role in this research, but detailed process models, such as the Met Office Large Eddy Model, are also used.

Development of land surface modelling within the Met Office is now centred on the Joint UK Land Environment Simulator (JULES), a community land surface model, with applications in both weather forecasting and climate modelling. The coupling between the atmosphere and the sea surface has been less intensively developed within the context of weather prediction models, but is currently receiving renewed attention.

Better representations of surface processes contribute directly to improvements in the forecasting of near surface variables, such as wind and temperature, while an accurate representation of the surface fluxes is important for the accurate long-term evolution of forecasts. In addition, weather and surface data are necessary inputs to a range of other environmental forecasting models. Also, as we live on the land surface, it is important to ensure that we can have an accurate representation of the current and future state of the land, such as the impacts of flooding or droughts.

Key aims

  • To obtain a better understanding of physical processes operating at the surface and in the lowest few metres of the atmosphere.

  • To improve the forecasting of near-surface weather (notably winds and temperatures) and to provide better driving data to downstream models that depend on weather and surface data.

  • Investigate the impact of the land surface towards the predictability of weather and climate.

  • Develop a physical representation of the land surface within the Joint UK Land Environment System (Joint UK Land Environment Simulator (JULES), a community land surface numerical model.