PhD and PostDoc positions

Spontaneous applications are welcome anytime. Please contact Jun.-Prof. Annette Miltenberger for discussing research topics and funding options.

Student projects (Hiwi, BSc thesis, MSc thesis)

Below some topics for BSc and MSc thesis within our group are listed. For discussing other thesis ideas/topics and for information on current Hiwi positions please contact Jun.-Prof. Annette Miltenberger.

Impact of degrading data accuracy on airmass trajectories (BSc)

Meteorological data output is generated with increasingly more complex numerical models and with increasingly larger spatial and temporal resolution. This results in strongly increased storage demands. To strike a balance between the computational expenses, storage demands and the model accuracy it is important to understand how these interact. For example, increasing the temporal or spatial resolution of a model together with a reduction of the precision of the output might result in essentially the same storage demands as before. In addition, it is not known how a reduced precision in the stored output data might affect further data analysis results and how this compares to other sources of uncertainty, e.g. the numerical schemes used or uncertainty due to inaccurate or sparse observational data.
In this project, we will explore this question for the computation of trajectories based on the recently released ERA5 data-set, which represents the "best guess" of the state of our atmosphere in the past.
Target group: BSc Computer Sciences/Atmospheric Physics

Impact of stochastic airmass trajectories on interpreting UTLS aircraft measurements (BSc)

Interpreting aircraft measurements of trace gases and clouds often requires information on the air mass history that is typically derived by computation of backward trajectories. The computation of trajectories is, however, subject to several sources of uncertainty - not least in the wind field data. Recently, we have developed a stochastic trajectory calculation tool that allows to incorporate estimates of wind field uncertainty into the trajectory calculation.
In this project, you will use the new stochastic trajectory tool and aircraft data from some recent field campaigns in the North Atlantic region to quantify the uncertainty of airmass sources and history of observed air parcels. Thereby, the importance of stochastic trajectory data for the interpretation of aircraft measurements can be determined.
Target group: BSc Atmospheric Physics

Impact of secondary ice formation processes on hail forecasts (BSc)

Hailstorms can cause substantial damage to infrastructure and agriculture. Forecasting these storms remains challenging not least due to large uncertainties in the involved cloud microphysical processes and their representation in numerical weather prediction model. Of particular importance for hail formation is the amount and size of ice particles in the clouds. One source of small ice crystals at relatively warm temperatures is secondary ice formation, i.e. the formation of ice crystals through processes other than freezing of liquid droplets/aerosols. Only recently model descriptions of some of these processes have become available and therefore insight in their impact on hail forecasts is still missing.
In this project, you will explore simulations of a supercell storm in the Munich area with and without representations of secondary ice formation. This will provide insight into the importance of the process for hail forecasting.
Target group: BSc Atmospheric Physics

Climatology of large-scale conditions during WCB occurrence in the North Atlantic (BSc)

Extra-tropical cyclones and in particular the associated warm conveyor belt are important systems for cloudiness, precipitation, and moisture transport to the upper troposphere. The synoptic scale conditions during WCB occurrence varies and influences the efficiency of precipitation formation as well as moisture transport.
In this project, you will make use of an existing WCB climatology based on ERA5 and establish a climatology of large-scale conditions during these events. This climatology will later be used to investigate the relationship between large-scale conditions and the efficiency of moisture transport.
Target group: BSc Atmospheric Physics

Analysis of uncertainties in radar-/satellite retrievals with algorithmic differentiation (MSc)

The observation of meteorological quantities by remote sensing (e.g. radar or satellite) is an important source of information for example on clouds, cloud structures. The data are used in physical analysis, but also for the evaluation of weather and climate models. However, quantities of interest often have to be estimated from the observed backscattered radiation (“retrieval“). These retrievals often rely on many assumptions that can have a significant impact on the retrieved quantities, although these uncertainties are often not well characterised.
The method of algorithmic differentiation allows to directly assess the gradients of a model with respect to its parameters. In this project you will apply algorithmic differentiation to different retrieval algorithms for cloud related variables (satellite and radar products). The gradients of the algorithms are investigated for their spatiotemporal structure and relation to larger-scale meteorological conditions. Understanding and quantifying key sensitivities of retrieval algorithms is an important contribution for future improvements of retrievals and thereby quantitative information on cloud-related variables.
Target group: MSc Computer Sciences/Atmospheric Physics

Conservation of physical properties along airmass trajectories (MSc)

Lagrangian analysis of meteorological data is a widely used technique in the scientific community, where one establishes a trajectory of an individual air mass through the atmosphere based on the wind fields. On top of the trajectory itself, one often considers the conservation or non-conservation of variables along the trajectories, e.g. potential vorticity, potential temperature, humidity or aerosol. The quality of trajectory data impacts whether the diagnosed (non-)conservation depicts physical processes as represented in the underlying data or is just a consequence of the accuracy of the trajectory scheme. For testing the conservation properties, one can use passive fields and deviations introduced by the trajectory scheme. Recently, test cases to analyse the impact of numerical diffusion on tracer transport have been proposed [doi:10.1016/j.jcp.2010.08.014].
In this project, we will implement and perform these test cases with the ICON model (the numerical weather forecast model run by the German Weather Service, Deutscher Wetterdienst) and use the output to perform trajectory simulations. Thereby we can analyse contributions from numerical diffusion and trajectory accuracy. We will further test the impact of data precision and spatio-temporal resolution of the wind field data on the trajectory accuracy.
Target group: MSc Computer Sciences/Atmospheric Physics

Impact of local flow features on the recurrence of organised convection in the Munich area (MSc)

Hailstorms can cause substantial damage to infrastructure and agriculture. Organised convective storms occur in various places over Germany with local hotspots in the pre-Alpine region and the Swabian Jura. One area with high damage potential and frequent occurrence of organised convection is the area around Munich. Despite their high socio-economic impact, forecasting such events remains a major challenge.
In this project, you will analyse the conditions before, during and after the occurrence of organised convection in the Munich area. Thereby typical flow configurations can be identified and related to forecast performance of and error patterns in state-of-the-art modelling systems. The latter may provide insight into deficiencies in the modelling system and hint at necessary future developments for improving forecasts of high-impact weather events.
Target group: MSc Atmospheric Physics

Role of aerosol conditions for the predictability of heavy precipitation (MSc)

Aerosol abundance and properties are intrinsically linked to cloud formation due to their role as cloud condensation nuclei and ice nucleation particles. The impact of aerosol variability on precipitation amounts and distribution remains, however, debated.
In this project you will explore ensemble forecasts of heavy precipitation events over Germany and investigate whether there are statistical links of forecast errors to aerosol conditions. On a weather timescales this would hint at significant aerosol-cloud interaction effects.
Target group: MSc Atmospheric Physics

Cloud biases in IFS / ICON-EU ensemble data and its relation to weather fronts (MSc)

Cloud cover is a key quantity in weather forecasts with relevance for e.g. renewable energy production and radiative fluxes. Nevertheless, currently operational forecasting systems often struggle to predict cloud cover accurately. The physical processes are not always clear, which impedes developments of efficient remedies. In mid-latitudes synoptic-scale fronts are often related with extensive cloud systems. Biases in the representation of front-related clouds are therefore of particular interest
In this project you will combine satellite, reanalysis data, and IFS / ICON-EU ensemble forecast data to investigate cloud cover biases and error structures in regions adjacent to synoptic-scale weather fronts. Fronts will be identified with a recently developed machine learning based front detection algorithm.
Target group: MSc Atmospheric Physics

Sources and growth of moisture errors in the IFS ensemble (MSc)

Clouds are still poorly forecast in many global and regional weather and climate model. In particular, it is not well understood how uncertainty in moisture fields either from an insufficient charactersation of the initial condition or due to mis-represented cloud physics propagates in ensemble forecasts and impacts cloud formation at later forecast times.
In our research group recently a tool for identifying and tracing moisture error features in IFS ensemble data has been developed. In this project you will use IFS ensemble data together with this tracking tool to establish a climatology of moisture error source and tracks. This climatology will then be used to investigate the consistency of errors across ensemble members as well as their connection to larger-scale meteorological conditions and initial condition uncertainty as estimated by data assimilation. This analysis will provide novel insight into the sources of moisture errors, error growth processes, and model deficiencies.
Target group: MSc Atmospheric Physics