WCSSP Southeast Asia research opportunities


Call reference: DN435027

Met Office tendering on behalf of BEIS. 

Bids invited for: WCSSP South East Asia
Please note that this opportunity is open to UK researchers only.

Grant Funds for the period 1st April 2020 – 31st March 2021

Call for competition to cover the following lots: 

Lot number Title Amount
SEA/1 Impact of ENSO on TC tracks/intensity and/or predictability £165,000
SEA/2 Behaviour or Mesoscale Convective Systems over SE Asia £165,000
SEA/3 HIgh impact weather in the context of weather regimes over SE Asia £165,000
SEA/4 Develop user-focused modules for the FOREST visualisation tool £200,000

Using social science to explore how forecasters and stakeholders interpret uncertainty in models or warnings



Key dates:

Bidding deadline: 22 November 2019, 12 noon

Estimated award of call: End of January 2020

Estimated delivery period: 1 April 2020 - 31 March 2021

The Weather and Climate Science for Service Partnership for Southeast Asia (WCSSP Southeast Asia), supported by the UK Government’s Newton Fund, is a research programme that will support the development of capability to underpin services to provide better advice of high impact weather and climate events and, therefore, will support climate and weather resilient economic development and social welfare. 
The Met Office anticipates holding a call for research proposals in September 2019. In preparation for the call, the Met Office is inviting expressions of interest from UK researchers.  
For further information please visit the project webpage.

Lot Details for this call:

SEA/1: Impact of ENSO on TC tracks/intensity and/or predictability

Activity description: 
More than 90% of the heavy precipitation events in summer over Philippines are linked to the tropical cyclones (TC’s). This may be true for a large part of Vietnam as well. Accurate prediction of track, intensity and landfall of TCs is critical in forecasting the HIW events over the region. On seasonal time scales these may be dependent upon the large-scale SST and dynamical forcing due to the ENSO and its interactions with other modes of variability (e.g. MJO, equatorial waves). The activity will include:

Objective 1: Document the ENSO influence on the seasonal statistics (track, intensity, number, etc.) of TCs over the region with focus on Philippines and Vietnam.
Objective 2: Evaluate the impact of ENSO on intra-seasonal modes and understand how that modifies TC properties and HIW.
Objective 3: Evaluation of TC statistics in medium range and seasonal forecast ensembles for large El Nino and La Nina/neutral conditions.

Anticipated outputs or results: 
Joint paper/report on the ENSO influence on TC related HIW over southeast Asia.

SEA/2: Behaviour of Mesoscale Convective Systems over SE Asia

Activity description:  
Mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) are the largest of the convective storms and produce extensive contiguous areas of heavy rainfall. They account for a large proportion of precipitation in the tropics. This activity will examine the observed impact of large-scale dynamical drivers in modulating MCS over SE Asia region.

Objective 1: Develop methods to identify MCS from satellite observations
Objective 2: Examine the impact of dynamical drivers (e.g. MJO, cold surges, Borneo vortex, equatorial waves etc) on the MCS characteristics
Objective 3: Identify and analyse case studies to assess the impact of MCS over SE Asia.

Anticipated outputs or results: 
-    Code to objectively identify MCS’s from satellite data.
-    Joint paper/report on the large-scale impacts on MCS characteristics over SE Asia.

SEA/3: High impact weather in the context of weather regimes over SE Asia

Activity description: 
Weather regime analysis have been shown to be a convenient method to characterise the large-scale states that dominate a region at a given time. The method is widely used by forecasters and scientists alike to characterise the large-scale states over Europe. WCSSP India has successfully applied the method to the tropics to identify the key large-scale weather patterns affecting the sub-continent. This activity will investigate how best to characterise the large-scale states over SE Asia and whether certain states are more likely associated with severe weather. The method may be useful to assess the impact of large-scale dynamics on HIW with application to forecasting. This activity will explore the following:

Objective 1: Use cluster analysis or other novel techniques to define weather patterns for SE Asia which represent all the main circulation types throughout the year.
Objective 2: Assess to what extent the identified weather states correspond to known modes of variability such as the MJO.
Objective 3: Relate the regimes to the occurrence of high impact weather and meteorologically-induced hazards.
Objective 4: Use the weather regimes as probabilistic medium-to long-range weather pattern forecasting tools (e.g. similar to the Met Office “Decider” tool).

Anticipated outputs or results: 
•    Identified set of key weather regimes for SE Asia.
•    Software for automatically producing regime probability from forecast model data.
•    Guidance for in-region forecasters on which regimes are likely to bring HIW.

SEA/4: Develop user-focused modules for the FOREST visualisation tool

Activity description:

The FOREST (Forecast, Observations and Research Evaluation and Survey Toolkit) visualisation tool provides an infrastructure for viewing and interrogating numerical weather prediction and observational data. Core users are intended to be operational meteorologists, scientists and students of meteorology. The Met Office have built a technical infrastructure on the Amazon Web Service and a software framework for FOREST based on python libraries such as bokeh and scitools, the code for which can be found at https://github.com/informatics-lab/forest. This call is to develop new functionality within the existing tool, specifically with regard to a module or modules that allow the user to interact with meteorological data, and submit their own annotations, feedback and assessments of models. 

Through this activity, we aim to re-invent the connection that meteorologists had with weather information when hand-drawn techniques were used to create forecasts. While computer-based forecasts and modelling techniques have moved the field of meteorology forward enormously, we recognise that there is a clear need for computer-based methods that aid the understanding of numerical weather prediction forecasts.

We therefore invite proposals for the development of a module of FOREST that allows users to achieve some or all of the following tasks:
•    overlaying annotation onto weather maps (e.g. being able to mark squall lines, temperature and humidity gradients, cold surge fronts, etc.)
•    combining overlays from different model runs to allow the user to easily visualise uncertainty in the position of features
•    integration of feedback to capture forecaster’s interpretation connected to the annotation. For example, a user may wish to write a commentary for a particular location or event.
•    Query and view feedback either by date, event type or another measure of model performance
•    Export of feedback to a document that can be shared with others

Additional suggestions in the spirit of the aim of the activity are also welcome. Development of the underlying architecture will continue synchronously with this activity, meaning that the grant awardee will be expected to work closely with the Met Office FOREST team. Further guidance on the details of survey questions and suggested annotations will be provided to grant awardee.

Anticipated outputs or results: 
Code modules that can be used within the FOREST web-based visualisation tool. The modules will meet the coding standards required by the tool. The FOREST tool is licensed under a BSD 3 clause license, and the grant awardee would be expected to contribute code under the same license.

SEA/5: Using social science to explore how forecasters and stakeholders interpret uncertainty in models or warnings

Activity description: 

Even though numerical weather prediction (and the evaluation of it) is a quantitative science, forecasters still use prior knowledge and expertise to form opinions about whether to issue warnings of high impact weather. In an Impact Based Forecasting system, they must also make an interpretation of the likelihood of the event occurring, the intensity of the hydro-meteorological event, and the vulnerability of affected people, property and systems. The choice of the severity and likelihood of a weather warning are essentially subjective decisions informed by quantitative science. There are many facets to this decision, some of which include the forecaster’s understanding of model performance, the severity of the model forecasts, the vulnerability of the underlying population and aversion to risk of the forecaster. A forecaster needs to understand all of these facets, plus consider the damage to users’ trust in future warnings if a false alarm is given.

An additional challenge to an effective Impact Based Forecasting system is to clearly communicate warnings so that key users take appropriate action. Users of high impact weather warnings may include disaster managers, first responders or even the general public. In order to respond appropriately, users must interpret potentially complex weather information in order to make proportionate decisions about what action to take in response to warnings. The objectives of this activity are therefore:

Objective 1: Using techniques rooted in social science, study the decision-making process that forecasters go through to issue high impact weather warnings, where possible quantify key thresholds and identify best practice

Objective 2: Develop novel approaches to learn about how high impact weather warnings are interpreted by users, and consequently propose the effective communication methods for weather warnings.

Anticipated outputs or results:

  • New tools and approaches to quantify:
    1. how likely a forecaster would be to issue a warning given the probability and severity of a model forecast event
    2. how likely a user would be to take action based on different formats of warning
  • A report analysing forecasters’ decision-making processes for issuing weather warnings, particularly with regard to probability or severity thresholds that are important to forecasters. Understanding forecasters’ appetite for risk will provide scientists with a useful threshold against which to assess ensemble spread.

A report providing insight into the most effective methods of communicating impact-based warnings to key users in the UK and SE Asia.

Background on the Newton Fund WCSSP Programme
The Newton Fund builds research and innovation partnerships with 17 active partner countries to support their economic development and social welfare, and to develop their research and innovation capacity for long-term sustainable growth. It has a total UK Government investment of £735 million up until 2021, with matched resources from the partner countries.  
The Newton Fund is managed by the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and delivered through 7 UK delivery partners, which includes UK Research and Innovation (comprising the 7 research councils and Innovate UK), the UK Academies, the British Council and the Met Office. For further information visit the Newton Fund website and follow via Twitter: @NewtonFund  
The Met Office is administering the Newton Fund through under the wider Weather and Climate Science for Service Partnership Programme (WCSSP). The WCSSP Programme is developing a global network of projects that harness the scientific expertise needed to strengthen the resilience of vulnerable communities to weather and climate variability. This network accelerates our scientific understanding of the challenges presented by a changing and changeable climate and strengthens our shared ability to develop innovative services that reduce, or manage, societies’ exposure – creating a ‘global community around a shared challenge’. 

For more information see the programme webpages and follow via Twitter: @MetOfficeww 

The following criteria must be met by the organisation submitting a bid against Calls supported by the Newton Fund in order to be eligible to apply or be awarded funds against this Call: 
•    Demonstrate how the Bid contributes to the Newton Fund aim to develop science and innovation partnerships. 
•    Demonstrate ODA compliance. 
•    Must be a UK operating and registered organisation. 
•    Consortium bids are eligible; a lead partner must be nominated for payment and agreement purposes and must be a UK operating and registered organisation. Details of all consortium members must be provided. 
•    Funding can only be used to fund new activity for the costs incurred. 
•    An in-country economic and societal benefit must be demonstrated. 
•    The activity must last the full duration of the Grant Award Term specified. 
•    There must be a willingness to work with Authority and other organisations and individuals associated with the WCSSP Programme. 
•    Be willing to work with other funding authorities to ensure delivery costs represent the most efficient use of resources to deliver the overall Programme over the Grant Award Term. 
•    Bidders are not expected to have in-country Partners to respond to this call. The bilateral partnership nature of the Newton Fund means that effort by in-country researchers is supported by our existing in-country partners as standard.

How to Apply:

The above opportunities are advertised on the Met Office ProContract e-Tendering portal called ProContract.  To access and register your interest you will need to log onto the ProContract portal via this link: tenders.metoffice.gov.uk

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Online Discussions between Bidders and the Met Office: 
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