Call for participants
Expressions of interest are invited to attend a three day interactive strategic workshop to develop a research project to address the question:
What are the implications of RAPID-WATCH observing system data and other recent observations for estimates of the risk due to rapid change in the Meridional Overturning Circulation?
Date of Workshop: 22-24 October 2008
Application closing date: 16:00 on 12 September 2008
Venue: Central location
The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) invites expressions of interest to attend an interactive ('sandpit' type) strategic workshop to be held at a central location on 22-24 October 2008.
The aim of the workshop is to develop a research proposal to address the question 'What are the implications of RAPID-WATCH observing system data and other recent observations for estimates of the risk due to rapid change in the MOC?' NERC has allocated up to £1m (where this is 80% of the Full Economic Costs) to fund research arising from the workshop.
Participants will develop a collaborative research proposal through discussions with each other, the facilitators and external assessors.
The research challenge
The NERC research programme RAPID-WATCH, which builds on the Rapid Climate Change programme, will deliver a decade-long (2004-2014) time series of the strength and structure of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC) using the Atlantic Array at 26.5°N RAPID-WATCH observing system. These observations, in conjunction with other relevant research and data, will be used to determine and interpret recent changes in the Atlantic MOC, to improve assessment of the risk of rapid climate change due to MOC change, and to investigate the potential for predictions of the MOC and its impacts on climate.
The RAPID-WATCH research programme science plan has two key objectives:
- To deliver a decade-long time series of calibrated and quality-controlled measurements of the Atlantic MOC from the RAPID-WATCH observing system;
- To exploit the data from the RAPID-WATCH observing system and elsewhere to determine and interpret recent changes in the Atlantic MOC, assess the risk of rapid climate change, and investigate the potential for predictions of the MOC and its impacts on climate.
We have already launched an announcement of opportunity to address the second objective, through studies answering the questions:
- How can we exploit data from the RAPID-WATCH observing system to obtain estimates of the MOC and related variables?
- What do the observations from the RAPID-WATCH observing system and other sources tell us about the nature and causes of recent changes in the Atlantic Ocean?
- What are the implications of RAPID-WATCH observing system data and other recent observations for estimates of the risk due to rapid change in the MOC?
- Could we use RAPID-WATCH and other observations to help predict future changes in the MOC and climate?
Following an outline bids stage, no full bids have been invited to address Question 3 and it is therefore the intention of this event to develop a project to address this question:
What are the implications of RAPID-WATCH observing system data and other recent observations for estimates of the risk due to rapid change in the MOC?
In this context risk is taken to mean the probability of rapid change in the MOC and the consequent impact on climate (affecting temperatures, precipitation, sea level, for example).
This project must:
- contribute to the MOC observing system assessment in 2011;
- investigate how observations of the MOC can be used to constrain estimates of the probability of rapid MOC change, including the magnitude and rate of change;
- make sound statistical inferences about the real climate system from model simulations and observations;
- investigate impacts at smaller spatial scales and develop more detailed scenarios for rapid climate change;
- investigate the dependence of model uncertainty on such factors as changes of resolution;
- assess model uncertainty in climate impacts and characterise impacts that have received less attention (eg frequency of extremes).
The project must also demonstrate close partnership with the Hadley Centre in achieving its objectives and contributing to the RAPID-WATCH deliverables.
Further information on the requirements of Question 3 can be found in the RAPID-WATCH science and work plans.
Further information on the RAPID-WATCH programme is also available.
The workshop will run over three days, starting at 09:00 on day one and finishing at 17:00 on day three.
As the workshop progresses, participants will build up understanding of and approaches as to how the question may be addressed and develop their innovative ideas and activities for funding.
Those selected to attend will receive further briefing before the event.
Location and Date
This workshop will take place at a venue in a central location 22-24 October 2008. An application will be taken to mean availability for these dates, and a definite commitment to attend. The environment will encourage free and open-minded thinking. We will send out full details of the venue, travel and the accommodation arrangements to all participants.
Travel, hotel costs and meals for the duration of the workshop will be covered by NERC.
How the workshop will work
The workshop will be an intensive discussion forum. We will encourage free-thinking to delve deep into the stated question and uncover innovative solutions.
The workshop will be led by a director who will help define the topic and aid facilitated discussions.
The process of the workshop will be in several stages:
- defining the scope of the issue;
- agreeing a common language and terminology;
- sharing understanding of the problem, and the expertise brought by the participants to the workshop;
- focusing on the problem, using creative and innovative thinking techniques in break-out sessions;
- capturing the outputs in the form of a research project (a consortia will be expected to develop the detailed proposal that is submitted).
The workshop will be an intensive event. For the well-being of participants, the venue offers opportunities for relaxation, and the timetable will include informal networking activities as a break from the detailed technical discussions. The director will be joined by a small number of advisors. The director and advisors will take full part in the workshop, but will not be eligible to receive research funding, and so will act as impartial peer reviewers in the process.
Who should apply?
Having the right mix of participants influences the success or failure of such an event. Applicants must be from eligible UK institutions (see the NERC Research Grants Handbook for eligibility) or the Hadley Centre (as close collaboration with the latter is a requirement).
We encourage applications from all relevant research areas across the natural environmental sciences. We are not defining the disciplines that should be represented at this workshop; rather we are asking potential participants to indicate how their expertise can address the defined problem.
It would be beneficial for applicants to have some prior knowledge of one or more of the following:
- estimating risk (taken here to mean probability x impact)
- ocean processes and modelling
- oceanographic observations
- climate and impacts modelling (deterministic or statistical)
But more importantly applicants must demonstrate an enthusiasm for cross-disciplinary research.
Applicants should not feel limited by conventional perceptions: this workshop is about bringing together people who may not normally interact.
This is an opportunity to share ideas and develop collaborations that address the stated research question. The research project initiated by this event must fall within the NERC remit to be eligible for NERC funding.
How to apply
We invite applications from individual academic researchers. An applicant can not ask someone else in their research group to take up their place at the workshop. A panel of experts will identify approximately 15-20 participants to take part in the workshop, via the assessment procedure outlined below.
Applicants should complete the two-page Expression of Interest form below.Expression of Interest form, PDF document (21KB) Expression of Interest form, Word document (35KB)
Expression of Interest form
Posted: 15 July 2008
Your answers to these questions will be used to differentiate your application and convince us that you have the suitable skills and attitude to participate in this workshop. Please note that we are looking for both your relevant skills and expertise and for evidence of how you might approach the multidisciplinary problem that the research question raises.
Applicants must be available to attend for the full three day duration of the workshop.
If selected as a participant your CV details, in section 1, will be made available to other participants to facilitate networking at the event.
Completed Expression of Interest application forms should be submitted by email to email@example.com by 16:00 on 12 September 2008. Applications before this date would be very much welcomed. No further documentation will be accepted. Please note that we will not consider late submissions.
We will inform applicants by the 26 September 2008 of the outcome of the selection process for the workshop.
Applications will be considered by a panel consisting of the workshop director, the advisors and a NERC representative in order to ensure a mix of disciplines and experience.
Overall, the selection panel will seek to ensure that a balance of expertise is present at the workshop; their assessment will be based on the criteria outlined below.
- specific expertise relevant to the topic of the workshop;
- the ability to develop new and highly original research ideas;
- the potential to contribute to the research between disciplines;
- the ability to work in a team;
- the ability to explain own research to non experts.
Please ensure you fully complete the Expressions of Interest form, as this is the only information on which potential workshop attendees will be selected. Please also note that it will not possible to provide feedback once the selection has been made.
Post workshop proposal assessment
Following the workshop, investigators involved in the proposed project will be tasked with writing a full proposal covering their intended activities as identified at the workshop. The deadline for submission of a proposal generated at the workshop will be 21 November 2008. The proposal will be submitted via the Research Councils Joint Electronic Submission System (Je-S). Further guidance on this part of the process will be available at the workshop.
The primary criteria used throughout the process of developing and assessing the final proposal will be how well the proposal addresses the vision of the call.
Programme management and reporting arrangements
The RAPID-WATCH programme has well-defined deliverables and a strict timetable for their delivery (see RAPID-WATCH science and work plans). To ensure that the project funded through this strategic workshop process effectively delivers RAPID-WATCH science, it will be closely overseen by a RAPID-WATCH Programme Advisory Group (PAG). The project will be required to report progress at regular intervals to the PAG - probably every six months - and attend meetings with the PAG as required. If any problems arise in the delivery of the science, it will be required to work closely with the RAPID-WATCH science coordinator and members of the PAG to develop effective solutions so ensuring timely delivery of RAPID-WATCH science. Any award issued as a result of this workshop will have detailed terms and conditions that reflect the highly directed nature of the RAPID-WATCH science programme.
For further information, advice or queries regarding format of the event and application procedure please contact:
Natural Environment Research Council
Polaris House, North Star Avenue
Swindon, SN2 1EU
Tel: 01793 411513
For further information, advice or queries regarding the scope of the event please contact:
Dr Meric Srokosz
National Oceanography Centre Southampton (NOCS)
Empress Dock, Southampton, SO14 3ZH
Tel: 02380 596414