I have worked as a climate modeller and polar scientist at the British Antarctic Survey since October 2014, prior to that I undertook a PhD at the University of Leeds and undergraduate and masters studies at the University of Edinburgh.
My current research is as a member of the Iceland Greenland seas Project (IGP), a multi-organisation project to investigate changes in surface fluxes and ocean overturning in the Iceland and Greenland Sea’s. IGP is funded by a NERC grant and will feature a combined aircraft and ship observations field campaign of atmosphere-ocean interactions in the Iceland Greenland Seas, in conjunction with targeted climate and meteorological modelling. My responsibility is to undertake the climate modelling for the project, using a nested regional version of the Met Office Unified Model, a global climate model at version 10.6 on the Monsoon platform to investigate the role of sea ice changes over the past 40 years on marine cold air outbreaks (MCAOs) and heat flux events. Simulations will focus on years which displayed the maximum, average and minimum sea ice extent in the Iceland and Greenland seas region. The results of these simulations will be used to assess how sea ice affects the location and intensity of heat flux events in the Iceland-Greenland Seas.
Previous BAS Research
From October 2014 until June 2017, I worked on the NERC grant: Poles Apart: Why has Anatrctic sea ice increased and why don’t coupled climate models reproduce observations? The aim of Poles Apart was to investigate the observed growth in Antarctic sea ice over the past 30 years, a growth which is anomalous in comparison to both present trends in Arctic sea ice and climate model simulations of Antarctica using the latest Earth System models. The grant investigated this issue from two angles, ocean and sea ice modelling and atmospheric modelling. My research used a recent version of the Met Office model, HadGEM3 (at version 8.4) coupled to an interactive chemistry model, UKCA. Through this model, I investigated the role of various anthropogenic and natural forcings on the Antarctic climate to assess their potential contribution to the increase in sea ice extent.
I began my research career through studying geology at the University of Edinburgh from where I graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Environmental Geoscience. I proceeded on to an MSc by Research in Global Environmental Change, also at Edinburgh, with a Masters dissertation on the possibility of using stratospheric sulphate geo-engineering as a wedge to avoid dangerous climate change. The research was conducted using the UK Met Office general circulation model, HadCM3, and acted as my introduction to climate modelling. From here, I moved to the University of Leeds and undertook a PhD using perturbed physics ensembles of HadCM3 to investigate uncertainty in modelling the mid-Pliocene Warm Period (3.3 to 3.0 Ma).
In March 2015, I was very proud to win the Dysprosium Zone of I’m A Scientist, Get Me Out of Here, an online outreach event where I joined 4 other scientists in our zone to engage with school children from 12 schools across the UK. The winner was decided by votes and evictions over the course of the second week, so to be chosen as the winner by the kids in the zone is a real honour. My zone profile can be viewed here. I have also visited a number of schools in my role as a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) Ambassador. Further details on the sessions I have undertaken at schools can be found here.
Since March 2017, I have been involved in Operation Earth, as the chair of the steering committee. Operation Earth is a collaboration between NERC and the Association for Science and Discovery Centres (ASDC). Together a show was developed with partners at the Eden Project, Natural History Museum and Our Dynamic Earth, to highlight the important NERC environmental science (such as ocean plastics, air quality, and biodiversity) to a family audience (parents and children aged 6-11). The show is being performed in 11 science centres across the UK from February 2018 through to October 2018, with a minimum target of interacting with 100,000 people. The steering committee have been involved in the final approval of show content and design, marketing tools and strategy and budgetary decisions. Operation Earth will be completed in January 2019.
Away from science, I am a keen sportsman, willing to turn my hand to most sports. Primarily I play Squash, Cricket and Racketlon, the latter sport saw me earn international honours at the 2014 World Team Championships in Wroclaw, the 2015 European Championships in Prague, and the 2017 European Championships in Vienna, where I captained the GB 4th Team. My other interests include hiking, photography and attending a range of sporting events.
My undergraduate background of training in geology and geochemistry has left me with a passion for understanding the various interactions between the climate and other earth systems. Through my Masters and PhD this has been fuelled by my use of fully coupled atmosphere-ocean general circulation models to investigate the climate responses to geo-engineering and the parameter uncertainty within HadCM3. More recently this has developed into the study of the sea ice, whether investigating how atmospheric forcings can influence the sea ice extent or how atmospheric forcings interact with sea ice to alter atmosphere-ocean interactions. My personal driver in this research is the aim to better understand the coupling of the various components of the Earth system so that we can better understand how the climate responds to natural and anthropogenic forcings and the impact this has on the Earth and its flora and fauna. This interest exists through both the palaeo-record of past climates, to present day and future climate system responses.
My research interests are focussed on our understanding of climate model outputs, specifically the understanding of the causes and impacts from structural, parameter and boundary condition uncertainties. Originally this was through the use of palaeoclimate data to test model outputs using a variety of information including sea surface temperatures, surface air temperatures and global vegetation reconstructions. My present research inbestigates factors that affect the release of heat from the surface ocean to the atmosphere, principally, how the concentration and location of sea ice affects this forcing. I enjoy the challenges that arise in comparing model output and observations/palaeo-data and I am rigorous in ensuring that the best comparisons are being made. From these focuses comes an interest in our understanding and estimates for Charney Sensitivity and Earth System Sensitivity, and what these represent in terms of the response of the Earth to forcings in the system.
I am also interested in the communication of climate uncertainty to the general public and other scientific fields as I feel this is presently a sticking point in the communication of what climate change is and is likely to mean over the coming century.
The Big Bang Theory Stereotype
In my opinion, another crucial issue requiring communication to the general public, especially to teenagers, is the image of science and scientists. The media portrayal of science is one I liken to being the “The Big Bang Theory Stereotype”. The concept of scientists as (predominantly) male geeks, with limited social skills, who play computer games, avoid sport and are all seemingly intelligent without limits in a range of fields. Elsewhere other media obsess with lab coats, often sparkling white and test tubes of coloured liquids in clean, tidy labs. Whilst these traits are occasionally true, there are as many scientists who are wandering around in jeans and dirty lab coats, enjoying the outdoors and spending their weekends playing in sports teams. I hope that through my outreach work and detailing my personal interests, people can see how far removed from the stereotype scientists can be.
Pope, J.O., Collins, M., Haywood, A.M., Dowsett, H.J., Hunter, S.J., Lunt, D.J., Pickering, S.J. & Pound, M.J. 2011. Quantifying Uncertainty in Model Predictions for the Pliocene (Plio-QUMP): Initial Results. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 309. pp.128-140 doi10.1016/j.palaeo.2011.05.004
Haywood, A.M., Dolan, A.M., Pickering, S.J., Dowsett, H.J., McClymont, E.L., Prescott, C.L., Salzmann, U., Hill, D.J., Hunter, S.J., Lunt, D.J., Pope, J.O. & Valdes, P.J. 2013. On the Identification of a Pliocene Time Slice for Data-Model Comparison. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A. 371 (2001) :20120515. doi.org/10.1098/rsta.2012.0515
Howell, F.W., Haywood, A.M., Dolan, A.M., Dowsett, H.J., Francis, J.E., Hill, D.J., Pickering, S.J., Pope, J.O., Salzmann, U. & Wade, B.S. 2014. Can uncertainties in sea ice albedo reconcile patterns of data-model discord for the Pliocene and 20th/21st centuries? Geophysical Research. Letters. 41. doi:10.1002/2013GL058872
Prescott, C.L., Haywood, A.M., Dolan, A.M., Hunter, S.J., Pope, J.O., & Pickering, S.J. 2014. Assessing Orbitally Forced Interglacial Climate Variability during the mid-Pliocene Warm Period. Earth & Planetary Science Letters. 400. pp.261-271. doi: 10.1016/j.epsl.2014.05.030
Non-Peer Reviews Publications
Pope, J.O. 2013. Quantifying Uncertainty in Climate Science. Weather. 68 (3). pp.69. DOI: 10.1002/wea.2089
Pope, J.O. 2012. First Timers Guide Advice in: Guide to the European Geosciences Union General Assembly. – A contribution to a first time at EGU guide aimed at PhD students who are attending their first EGU General Assembly
Pope, J.O. 2011. Perspectives from EGU GA 2011 (4). – A blog post from the Union Masterclass on Palaeoclimate at the 2011 European Geosciences Union General Assembly
My Google Scholar statistics are here.
Clem, Kyle R., Orr, Andrew, Pope, James O.. (2018) The springtime influence of natural tropical Pacific variability on the surface climate of the Ross Ice Shelf, West Antarctica: implications for ice shelf thinning. Scientific Reports, 8. 10.1038/s41598-018-30496-5
Bosmans, J.H.C., Erb, M.P., Dolan, A.M., Drijfhout, S.S., Tuenter, E., Hilgen, F.J., Edge, D., Pope, James O., Lourens, L.J.. (2018) Response of the Asian summer monsoons to idealized precession and obliquity forcing in a set of GCMs. Quaternary Science Reviews, 188. 121-135. 10.1016/j.quascirev.2018.03.025
Marshall, Lauren, Schmidt, Anja, Toohey, Matthew, Carslaw, Ken S., Mann, Graham W., Sigl, Michael, Khodri, Myriam, Timmreck, Claudia, Zanchettin, Davide, Ball, William T., Bekki, Slimane, Brooke, James S. A., Dhomse, Sandip, Johnson, Colin, Lamarque, Jean-Francois, LeGrande, Allegra N., Mills, Michael J., Niemeier, Ulrike, Pope, James O., Poulain, Virginie, Robock, Alan, Rozanov, Eugene, Stenke, Andrea, Sukhodolov, Timofei, Tilmes, Simone, Tsigaridis, Kostas, Tummon, Fiona. (2018) Multi-model comparison of the volcanic sulfate deposition from the 1815 eruption of Mt. Tambora. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 18. 2307-2328. 10.5194/acp-18-2307-2018
Turner, John, Phillips, Tony, Marshall, Gareth J., Hosking, J. Scott, Pope, James O., Bracegirdle, Thomas J., Deb, Pranab. (2017) Unprecedented springtime retreat of Antarctic sea ice in 2016. Geophysical Research Letters, 44. 6868-6875. 10.1002/2017GL073656
Pope, James O., Holland, Paul R., Orr, Andrew, Marshall, Gareth J., Phillips, Tony. (2017) The impacts of El Niño on the observed sea ice budget of West Antarctica. Geophysical Research Letters, 44. 6200-6208. 10.1002/2017GL073414
Deb, Pranab, Orr, Andrew, Hosking, J. Scott, Phillips, Tony, Turner, John, Bannister, Daniel, Pope, James O., Colwell, Steve. (2016) An assessment of the Polar Weather Research and Forecast (WRF) model representation of near-surface meteorological variables over West Antarctica. Journal of Geophysical Research - Atmospheres, 121. 1532-1548. 10.1002/2015JD024037
Storms caused massive Antarctic sea ice loss in 2016
News 23 June, 2017
Antarctic sea ice extent lowest on record
News 16 February, 2017