We work among extraordinary people doing extraordinary things; get to know some of them by reading these quick-fire interviews.
Name: Dr Antje Weisheimer
Job title: Senior NCAS Research Fellow
What are you currently working on?
I am interested in understanding which dynamical physical processes in the climate system force certain weather systems to occur more or less often during specific seasons, and how we can predict these with state-of-the-art global weather forecast models. For example, forecasts of temperature or wind anomalies during the last winter - issued in the autumn - raised lots of interest due to the critical energy situation in Europe. I am currently analysing how well these predictions verified retrospectively. In particular, I would like to find out how the large-scale atmospheric circulation across the globe or the temperatures of the oceans contributed to the winter conditions. I have a joint position at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) in Reading where these predictions at the interface between weather and climate are carried out on.
Describe a typical day
My day starts with the family getting ready for school and work. When I am finally at my desk, I enjoy five minutes of peace and quiet with a cup of tea reading something fun. The mornings are typically filled with meetings, online and in person, to discuss various research projects with colleagues who I supervise or otherwise collaborate with. As my most productive time is in the afternoon, I aim to keep a few hours free for being able to concentrate on something I really like doing, eg some data analysis or writing papers. I appreciate the flexibility that academic life offers for family responsibilities, but it also means I do often work in the evenings.
If you had an entire day at your disposal (not at work), what would be your ideal way to spend it?
I would wake up without an alarm clock and then take it easy. Since my kids have reached an age where their idea of a perfect day wouldn’t involve much of their parents anymore, I would love to sit down and read books for hours. In English I enjoy reading Julian Barnes, and in German my favourite author is the late Austrian Ingeborg Bachmann. After a lunchtime walk somewhere nice, I would get more active in the afternoon. Dinner would be with my family and one or two friends, chatting away until very late.
What is your favourite place in Oxford?
What discovery would you like to see in your lifetime?
Wishful thinking: time travel. More realistic: the Pacific Ocean, especially in the tropics, is super important for the global weather and climate system: the El Niño Southern Ocean (ENSO) phenomenon of very warm water and thus huge convection shifting from the western to the eastern parts of the equatorial Pacific, releases vast amounts of energy which sets off atmospheric waves travelling to remote parts of the world, including to us in the Euro-Atlantic region. Yet our weather and climate models are not able to capture some of the essential ENSO characteristics, eg long-term temperature trends in observations and model simulations disagree even on their sign. I would really like to see a breakthrough in our understanding of ENSO.