Research Project Equatorial Stratosphere

August 2012




A generous grant from the Royal Meteorological Society's Legacies Fund allowed me to complete a research project into the equatorial stratosphere over the summer vacation at the University of Oxford.
The semi-annual oscillation (SAO) and the quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) are the two primary forms of variability in the equatorial stratosphere, typified by alternating phases of westerly and easterly winds at pressure heights of 1hPa and 10hPa respectively. Previous research has shown that these two oscillations undergo phase-synchronisation or phase-locking in the atmosphere. My research, completed under the guidance of Dr Scott Osprey, investigated what kind of QBO-SAO phase-synchronisation, if any, computer models of the equatorial stratosphere predicted.
After two months of work it was shown that; a) not many GCMs produce a QBO at all, and b) of those few GCMs which did contain a QBO, only one model produced the same time of phase-synchronisation as observed in the atmosphere.

As a student about to apply for PhD positions the opportunity to produce a piece of original research, and a scientific publication, was invaluable. Without the generous support of the Royal Meteorological Society I would have been unable to afford to stay in Oxford for the summer and thus would have missed out on an opportunity which greatly improved my programming skills, allowed me to produce a scientific paper and gave me a taste of what scientific research is all about. Being amongst the brilliant minds of the stratosphere and climate group and being supervised by Dr Osprey confirmed to me that a PhD in atmospheric physics is precisely what I wish to do next. It is my hope that the work that this grant allowed will be a significant to boost to my applications.

Simon Clark, 3rd year Physics student, University of Oxford