Oral history of British science
Slingo, Julia (Part 3 of 6)
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The British Library, London and Meteorological Office, Exeter
Slingo, Julia, 1950- (speaker, female)
Merchant, Paul (speaker, male)
Part 3: [1:29:48] [Session two: 19th January 2012] Description of MO in early 1970s, including comments on intimidating setting of Directors’ offices and hierarchical structure/formality. [3:52] Continued description of MO. Comments on Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory [GFDL], led by Raymond Hide [RH]. Description of rotating annuli [RA], representing Earth’s atmosphere, used in GFDL. Comments on use of RA. Story of playing Dungeons and Dragons computer game on GFDL computer. [9:14] Comments on tethered balloon MO site, Cardington, Bedfordshire, used in studies of the atmospheric boundary layer/stratus cloud/fog. Mentions cloud chambers, MO; research aircraft. Comments on internal signs, MO. Mentions numerical weather forecasting, ‘MetO 11’. [11:49] Comments on relations with MO Directors, including story of conversation with AG concerning own explanation for formation of African easterly waves [AEW]. Description of use of numerical model to examine formation of AEW. Comments on contemporary concern over east African drought. Description of construction/operation of numerical model for west Africa, based on existing CCM. [20:00] Description of CCM, developed for GATE, including grid structure for solving of equations of motion, and list of atmospheric features represented. Comments on area covered by GATE CCM; development of Global Climate Model [GCM], based on GATE CCM. [23:27] Comments on motivations for GATE, including interest in relations between AEW and Atlantic hurricanes. Mentions GATE observing system, including ‘ship arrays’. Comments on use of GATE CCM forecast to direct observing system; use of GATE data to improve CCM. [26:14] Description of method of ‘initialising’ GATE CCM, adjusting ‘background field’ in relation to observations; graphical output of GATE CCM. [29:51] Detailed comments on meaning of ‘integration’ in relation to operation of CCM. [32:27] Description of own role in ‘parameterisation’ of small scale features/processes, including clouds. [35:48] Comments on effect of GATE observations on constitution of GATE CCM, including ‘parameterisation’ of convection. [37:04] Description of means of receiving GATE observations as paper record; process of decoding these paper records; plotting of decoded records on tephigrams. [40:28] Comments on working rota during GATE; use of room in Central Forecasting Office [CFO], MO for GATE operational forecasting. [42:35] Comments on living arrangements, early 1970s; pastimes including choral singing, squash, participation on MO mountaineering club [MOMC]. Mentions meeting future husband [Tony Slingo] in MOMC, 1976. Stories of MOMC. Mentions previous experience of hill walking. [48:22] Comments on own work at MO following GATE. Description of use of GATE CCM to demonstrate role of cloud-radiation interaction in development of tropical cyclones. [51:39] Description of construction of the first ‘column model’ [CLM], to examine relations between clouds and radiation. Comments on use of CLM to study warming effect of carbon dioxide [CO2] emissions, involving water vapour feedback [WVF], published in ‘Carbon Dioxide, Climate and Society’ . [53:58] Mentions Suki Menabe’s studies of effects of CO2 on climate, GFDL, late 1960s. Comments on intellectual context/aims/applications of MO climate modelling, 1970s; increasing importance of CC concerns, 1980s. [57:49] Brief comments on relations between climate research and the Ministry of Defence. Further comments on MO climate modelling, 1970s. [59:16] Comments on reasons for development of interest in role of clouds in CCMs, including influence of GATE. [1:02:15] Story of work for IIASA (International Institute for Advanced Systems Analysis) on modelling of effect on climate of ‘waste heat’ from nuclear power stations. [1:06:13] Comments on experience of being a junior scientist in MO hierarchy, in terms of origin/outcomes of research. Further discussion of CLM. [1:09:12] Comments on relations with PR. Story of avoiding forecasting posting, to focus on climate modelling. Mentions period of service, MetO20; birth of first child. [1:12:09] Description of process of finding coding errors in (‘debugging’) GATE CCM. [1:19:31] Story of development of ability to run CCMs through whole annual cycle, by late 1970s. Comments on development of interest in effect of seasonal cycle on Earth’s radiation budget, involving inference of ocean heat transport. [1:25:15] Comments on development of computing power during 1970s. Mentions IBM 360/195; first use of desktop terminal. [1:26:44] Comments on relations between scientists using CCM and those using physical models; contemporary research on instability of flow in planetary atmospheric waves.
Interview with meteorologist, Julia Slingo