Dr Alison McLaren

Alison works on sea ice with a particular interest in developing sea ice models

Areas of Expertise

  •  Sea ice modelling 

  • Coupling in climate models

Current Activities

Alison develops the sea ice model which is used in the Met Office Hadley Centre climate models as detailed in the unified model pages.  This includes assessing sea ice model simulations by comparing them with available observations.  The aim of her work is to improve the representation of sea ice processes in the model to increase confidence in model predictions.  For example, for HadGEM1 climate model, major changes were made to the representation of the thermodynamic and dynamic processes in the sea ice model which resulted in a significant improvement of ice thickness in the model.
The climate model can be used to predict future changes in sea ice.  It is also an invaluable tool in investigating how sea ice is affected by changes in the atmosphere and ocean, and vice versa. This increases our understanding of the important links in the climate system and can guide future model development.
In 2008, the Met Office Hadley Centre started using the Los Alamos National Laboratory CICE sea ice model.  Alison collaborated with the CICE developers to enable the CICE model to be used in the climate configurations of the unified model. Future work will be to enable the climate model to have vertical layers in the sea ice which will improve the representation of vertical processes.  Investigating the impact of this change on climate simulations will further our understanding of how sea ice processes can affect the climate.

Career Background

Alison joined the Met Office Hadley Centre in 2002, where she started working in the Climate, Cryosphere and Ocean group on sea ice.  Prior to that, Alison did a PhD and PostDoc at the University of Liverpool in Physical Oceanography.  As an undergraduate Alison studied Geophysical Sciences at the University of East Anglia.

Last updated: 27 January 2014