Analysing the atmosphere as a dynamical system provides a rigorous theoretical framework which can help us better understand large-scale motions. In particular, simple dynamical systems indicators such as local dimension and persistence provide information about the predictability and stability of a given atmospheric configuration.

The West African monsoon is one of the world’s main monsoon systems, and is crucial in sustaining the livelihood of millions of people across the Sahel. Understanding the drivers underlying its variability is therefore of fundamental importance.

During this project, the student will compute the local dimension and persistence of a number of atmospheric fields (sea-level pressure, winds, surface temperature) over the West African Monsoon region using data from both a present-day and a palaeo-climate simualtion. The aim is to verify whether the dynamical system approach can distinguish between the “on” and “off” states of the monsoon (i.e. the dry and wet seasons) and whether significant dynamical differences exist between the present day and palaeo monsoons.

This project is ideal for a student interested in atmospheric dynamics and applied mathematics looking to apply a very recent analysis method (first published in January 2017).