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Postdoctoral Scholar in Analyzing and understanding the emergent behavior of unusually high-resolution multi-scale climate simulations

Application Window

Open May 7th, 2021 through Saturday, Jul 31, 2021 at 11:59pm (Pacific Time)

Position description

Postdoctoral Scholar in analyzing and understanding the emergent behavior of unusually high-resolution multi-scale climate simulations

Professor Michael Pritchard in the Department of Earth System Science is seeking a motivated early career scientist to engage in collaborative work between our research group at the University of California, Irvine and an exciting team of DOE collaborators involved in next-generation Multiscale Modeling Framework (MMF) development. If this is of interest please feel free to reach out to me at Details follow.

Position perks:

  • Annual salary: $55k-70k USD + quality U. California medical, dental benefits.
  • Flexible start date, through Fall 2021.
  • Remote work optional; international possible with approval.
  • Two years, pending good progress following an annual assessment.
  • Supportive department: excellent admin support, postdoc community, early-career Slack.

Your qualifications:

  • An expected or recent atmospheric science PhD & familiarity with tropical climate dynamics and/or subtropical boundary layer cloud physics, and/or issues with their representation in climate models.
  • Proficient in analysis of large climate model datasets, ideally including simulations of explicit convection, with physical insight and observational validation.
  • Comfortable working on remote clusters, doing interactive data visualization, general data collection, etc.
  • Independent, collegial and open to multi-institutional collaborations.

Perks of our group:

  • Collaboration: Internally with 3 PhD students and 4 senior staff plus external networking with friendly colleagues working on similar themes at U. Washington.
  • Computing: Millions of CPU-hours, thousands of GPU-hours, as needed.
  • Technical training opportunities:
  • (By Professor Michael Pritchard): Interpreting cloud superparameterization results, history of MMFs and high-res climate modeling, efficient data analysis, untangling causality.
  • (By the group): Synchronous Jupyter notebook-based inquiry of details of explicit convection results at scale; modern issues in tropical climate dynamics.
  • (via ECP collaborators): Advanced software development for exascale computing, refactoring fortran / C++ turbulence code for GPU, performance portability, managing open-source software development, team science.

Project description:

We are seeking an ambitious early career scientist who is interested in analyzing and exploring the emergent climate dynamics produced from a new generation of multi-scale climate modeling framework (i.e. MMF). The MMF approach of embedding cloud resolving models (CRMs) within a host climate model has been substantially refactored by the DOE to run on one of the world’s best GPU-based supercomputers. Thus new simulations exist that are able to push ambitious resolution frontiers well beyond those of historical MMFs. The goal of this position is to understand the resulting climate dynamics through in-depth analysis and physical inquiry, in order to illuminate multi-scale dynamics and identify practical tradeoffs of relaxing some traditional assumptions of multi-scale climate simulations such as:

  • Refining exterior resolution from 150-km to 25-km -- with interesting effects on the tropical diurnal cycle, tropical cyclogenesis and monsoon depressions,

  • Radically increasing the interior horizontal resolution of embedded cloud-resolving arrays from 4-km to < 500-m grid spacing for explicit PBL dynamics, and

  • Increasing dimensionality of the embedded CRMs from 2D to 3D and allowing explicit convective momentum transport to feed back with large scale climate dynamics.

The work is to be in close collaboration with a talented group of software engineers, turbulence experts, numerical methods enthusiasts, and tropical climate dynamicists, based at or affiliated with the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore, Sandia, and Oak Ridge National Laboratories. Funding is through the auspices of the DOE’s Exascale Computing Project. Novel next-generation MMF model output data already exist and are being actively generated through this project, at two complementary limits: (1) multi-year simulations with 25-km exterior resolution (i.e. a million embedded CRMs instead of the typical ten thousand) and (2) short-term hindcasts at 100-km exterior resolution but with unusually high vertical resolution and PBL-eddy-permitting 3D horizontal CRM resolution, for low cloud dynamics; on the latter topic there is synergistic potential to collaborate with a talented UCI postdoc and our U. Washington collaborators who are also studying the limits of “ultra-parameterization”.

Please apply online at with a cover letter that also describes your immediate and long-term research goals, a curriculum vitae including publications list, and names for three letters of reference (please do not solicit letters).

The Earth System Science Department at UC Irvine is a highly interdisciplinary environment comprising ~ 25 faculty with expertise across many components of the Earth System, including atmospheric and climate dynamics, land surface processes, terrestrial and marine biogeochemical cycles, ice sheets, and human systems.


Basic qualifications (required at time of application)

    An expected or recent atmospheric science PhD.

Application Requirements

Document requirements
Reference requirements
  • 3-5 required (contact information only)
Apply link:

Campus Information

The University of California, Irvine is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer advancing inclusive excellence. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, age, protected veteran status, or other protected categories covered by the UC nondiscrimination policy.

Job location

Irvine, CA