Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Pre-announcement: TEAMxUK: Quantifying atmospheric processes in mountainous regions

Apply for funding to improve the understanding of atmospheric processes in mountainous regions across scales to:

  • improve weather and climate prediction
  • enhance the UK’s management of vulnerability, risk, and resilience to associated environmental hazards and change

The total fund for this funding opportunity will be £2.5 million. Up to four projects will be funded, to begin in October 2024.

This is a pre-announcement and the information may change. The funding opportunity will open in 2024. More information will be available on this page then.

Who can apply

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has introduced new role types for funding opportunities being run on the new UKRI Funding Service. For full details, visit eligibility as an individual.

Who is eligible to apply

Before applying for funding, check the following:

Project leads and co-leads must meet our standard eligibility criteria.

This funding opportunity is open to research groups and individuals. We:

  • encourage collaborative research with other UK organisations
  • encourage applications from diverse groups of researchers
  • welcome applications from individuals at any career stage, subject to NERC eligibility criteria

Who is not eligible to apply

You may be involved in no more than two applications submitted to this funding opportunity. Only one of these can be as project lead.

Project partners fund their own involvement. We will only fund minor incidental expenses, such as some travel costs, if needed for project partners.

We do not fund overseas organisations, except for specific costs for project co-leads from Norway and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA). Read more about this in the NERC eligibility guidance for applicants.

You should include all other international collaborators (or UK partners not based at approved organisations) as project partners. This includes organisations from the business or financial sectors.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

We are committed to achieving equality of opportunity for all funding applicants. We encourage applications from a diverse range of researchers.

We support people to work in a way that suits their personal circumstances. This includes:

  • career breaks
  • support for people with caring responsibilities
  • flexible working
  • alternative working patterns

Find out more about equality, diversity and inclusion at UKRI and NERC’s diversity and inclusion action plan.

What we're looking for

Aim

This is a pre-announcement for the “TEAMxUK: Quantifying atmospheric processes in mountainous regions” funding opportunity.

The funding opportunity aims to improve the understanding and model representations of orographic processes across scales to:

  • improve weather and climate prediction
  • enhance the UK’s management of vulnerability, risk, and resilience to associated environmental hazards and change

Scope

This investment will combine new observational data and process modelling of the atmosphere with theoretical developments to improve model representations of orographic processes, and their influence, across scales.

It will focus on an end output of developing and improving Momentum, the new Unified Earth Environment Prediction Framework and replacement to the Unified Model, currently being developed by the Met Office and partners under the Next Generation Modelling Systems (NGMS) programme.

Science themes

A separate component of this investment will collect observational data, both airborne and ground-based, during summer 2025 and winter 2025-26. Projects will focus on using data from the observational campaign but may also use TEAMx data from elsewhere if relevant. Projects should not include an observational element in their plans, and it is not possible for projects to be built around their own observational component. However, you are encouraged to partake in discussions around the design of the observational campaign and you may propose to take part in the field.

More details on the observational component will be available on a dedicated website when the full funding opportunity is launched. This component will be led by the National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS).

Projects should focus on at least one of the three science themes.

Theme A: mountain boundary layer processes

Boundary-layer flows are particularly sensitive to orographic variations. There is a need to improve modelling of the processes whereby orographic variations (at resolved and sub-grid scales) translate into inhomogeneity of the mean flow and of turbulence in the boundary layer. This theme looks to understand and represent these processes across the full range of boundary layer regimes, model grid spacings and dynamics. Attention will need to be paid to the representation of surface boundary conditions and exchange processes, in a scale aware and stochastic way.

Theme B: mountain waves, flow dynamics and scale interactions

The partitioning between orographic drag processes in current models is poorly constrained, resulting in misrepresentation of processes, particularly in very stable conditions. This theme addresses the need to formulate clearer distinctions between low-level orographic drag processes, their coupling to vertically propagating waves in a scale-sensitive way, and then to understand and accurately represent the remote impacts on the large-scale circulation of the drag in models. The focus will be on improving predictions of flow dynamics across the full range of synoptic regimes, while capturing the stochastic nature of these flows.

Theme C: moist orographic convection

The current parameterisations of moist convection in models do not consider explicitly the key role of orography in focusing and organisation, which can lead to errors in the evolution and timing of precipitation production. To improve predictions of convective dynamics and precipitation coverage and amount, this theme intends to develop the model representation of convection to account for orographic controls and stochasticity across scales and across the full range of synoptic regimes. As in Theme B, it also aims to improve the representation of upscale effects of the moist convection, in order to improve the large-scale circulation in climate models.

Project requirements

In all themes, the proposed project work must include an element that is focused on the translation of scientific understanding into practical formulations that could be implemented in weather and climate models and specifically the Momentum Unified Earth Prediction Framework (for example, findings that are quantitative and testable).

The investment will have three cross-cutting activities, and projects should clearly demonstrate how they contribute to at least one of these. The activities are:

  • theory and model development: advancing the underpinning theory, modelling frameworks and numerics required to improve models across scales
  • use of observations or process modelling: providing evidence to inform or direct parameterisation developments
  • evaluation: to test and refine new developments in models, comparing with observations, and including ensemble performance

We will look to ensure a balanced suite of complementary projects to cover the scope and activities of the programme.

Duration

The duration of this award is a maximum of 42 months.

Projects must start by October 2024.

Funding available

The full economic cost (FEC) of your project can be up to £625,000.

We will fund 80% of the FEC (£500,000) with the following exception:

  • justified equipment would be funded at 50%
  • eligible costs for international project co-lead involvement would be funded at 100%

We anticipate funding four projects through this funding opportunity.

We will not fund the following:

  • PhD studentship costs

Programme requirements

Successful projects, alongside the observational component, will form the UK contribution to the international programme TEAMx (Multi-scale transport and exchange processes in the atmosphere over mountains – programme and experiment). Successful projects will be expected to work with other projects funded through this funding opportunity and with the observational component.

Overall programme integration and coordination will be delivered by the National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS).

An extra £200,000 funding will be available to fund programme integration. Further details of this will be given when the full funding opportunity is launched.

How to apply

We are running this funding opportunity on the new UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Funding Service. You cannot apply on the Joint Electronic Submissions (Je-S) system.

We will publish full details on how to apply when the funding opportunity opens.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

We will assess your application using the following process.

Panel

An assessment panel comprised of independent external members will review your application against the assessment criteria and rank it alongside other applications. Panel members will consist of experts spanning the breadth of the funding opportunity remit to ensure that due consideration is given to interdisciplinary applications.

Principles of assessment

We support the San Francisco declaration on research assessment and recognise the relationship between research assessment and research integrity.

Find out about the UKRI principles of assessment and decision making.

We reserve the right to modify the assessment process as needed.

Assessment criteria

The criteria against which your application will be assessed are:

  • vision
  • approach
  • applicant and team capability to deliver

Full details of the assessment process will be given when the full funding opportunity is launched.

Contact details

Ask about this funding opportunity

Email: teamx@nerc.ukri.org

Enquiries can be sent to this email. However, we will not be able to provide additional information about this funding opportunity in advance of its publication.

Additional info

Webinar

We held a webinar in January 2024 to discuss information about the upcoming funding opportunity and observation campaign.

Watch webinar recording (Zoom). You will have to register with your name and email address to watch the recording.

TEAMx

This funding opportunity, alongside the observational campaign, is the UK contribution to the “Multi-scale transport and exchange processes in the atmosphere over mountains programme and experiment” (TEAMx). TEAMx will be a crucial testbed for evaluation and development of the Momentum Unified Earth Prediction Framework over complex terrain at high resolution (km and sub-km scales). This is a key step in the path towards global km-scale weather and climate prediction. In addition, the Met Office will be committing significant supercomputer time for high-resolution (sub-km) large domain simulations, which will be made available through the programme.

The two pillars of TEAMx are:

1. A field campaign, planned for 2025 in the European Alps, with large-scale deployment of micrometeorological instrumentation, ground-based profiling instruments and airborne sensors.

The focus of observations for the programme will be the TEAMx Observational Campaign in the European Alps, in both summer 2025 and winter 2025-26. This observational component for the programme will be managed by the National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) and coordinated in partnership with the wider observational effort, particularly from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the University of Innsbruck (UIKB), and will involve the Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements (FAAM) aircraft and ground-based instrumentation.

2. Coordinated modelling studies, combining a hierarchy of tools from large-eddy simulation to regional and global models to improve exchange parameterisations (land-atmosphere exchange, turbulence, gravity wave drag, convection) across modelling grey zones.

This funding opportunity relates to the second pillar.

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Updates

  • 9 February 2024
    Added webinar recording link to the 'Additional info' section.

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