Dr Antje Weisheimer

Dr Antje Weisheimer awarded Buchan Prize

Climate physics
Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics

Dr Antje Weisheimer has been awarded the Buchan Prize by the Royal Meteorological Society. The prize recognises her pioneering research and papers on climate dynamics and seasonal predictability where decadal and seasonal timescale dynamics interact. Her papers have enormous theoretical and practical significance and have had considerable impact in the community.

Dr Antje Weisheimer is a world leader in the field of seasonal climate prediction and predictability. Her pioneering research has shown conclusively that the predictability of the climate system on seasonal timescales is not a climatically stationary quantity, but exhibits significant multi-decadal variability. In this way, her work has spawned a new area of climate dynamics where decadal and seasonal timescale dynamics interact.

A novel approach

These two papers, published in the Quarterly Journal, describe results from a novel approach to quantifying seasonal predictability:

  • Weisheimer, A., N. Schaller, C. O'Reilly, D. MacLeod and T.N. Palmer (2017). Atmospheric seasonal forecasts of the 20th Century: multi-decadal variability in predictive skill of the winter North Atlantic Oscillation and their potential value for extreme event attribution. Q. J. R. Meteorol. Soc., 143, 917-926, doi:10.1002/qj.2976
  • Weisheimer, A., D. Decremer, D. MacLeod, C. O’Reilly, T.N. Stockdale, S. Johnson and T.N. Palmer (2018). How confident are predictability estimates of the winter North Atlantic Oscillation? Q. J. R. Meteorol. Soc., doi:10.1002/qj.3446

In the approach, conceived and executed by Dr Weisheimer, ensembles of seasonal reforecasts were run over the entire 20th century using reanalysis data for initial conditions. In these papers, it was shown not only how seasonal skill scores of the North Atlantic Oscillation exhibit significant multi-decadal variability, but also how the mid-20th century period shows none of the underestimates of “signal-to-noise” that occur in the later (or indeed earlier) periods. This provides important clues to understanding the dynamical origin of the so-called signal-to-noise paradox. Results from Dr Weisheimer’s papers also emphasise the practical importance of testing seasonal forecast systems over sufficiently long multi-decadal periods, in order that such systems can be considered trustworthy in prediction mode.

Papers of enormous significance

Dr Weisheimer’s papers have enormous theoretical and practical significance and have had considerable impact in the community. The research leading to these papers was guided by her strong belief in the development of seamless weather and climate systems.

‘I feel humbled and honoured to be awarded this year’s Buchan Prize of the Royal Meteorological Society,’ comments Dr Weisheimer. ‘Of course, scientific papers are hardly ever the work by one individual alone – ideas develop and form in mutual exchanges, discussions with colleagues and often when stepping back from the daily business that tends to occupy us all. I consider it a great privilege to be able to work creatively and to explore the marvels of the natural world around us. I would like to thank my colleagues from Oxford and ECMWF who were involved in the research that is recognised with this award. I am also grateful for the confidence in me of those who nominated me for the prize.’

The Buchan Prize is awarded annually to members of the Royal Meteorological Society for a paper or papers published in the previous five years in the Quarterly Journal, the International Journal of Climatology or Atmospheric Science Letters and adjudged to contain the most important original contribution or contributions to meteorology.