Understanding climate
for the benefit of society

Large-scale atmosphere-ocean dynamics

Research Group 4


The large-scale flows in the atmosphere and ocean determine much of climate from regional to global scales. Winds and ocean currents, as well as  the heat, moisture, and salt they carry, control the evolution of phenomena from weather systems and monsoons to ocean eddies and the Gulf Stream. To understand how these flows relate to climate, it is critical to elucidate the dynamics that maintain their time-averaged characteristics as well as the interactions that cause flow variations.

Our understanding of these large-scale flows depends on our ability to characterize and model them. The research conducted in Large-scale atmosphere-ocean dynamics RG4 relies on observations of the atmosphere, ocean and cryosphere; theoretical knowledge of the dynamics controlling them; and numerical modelling of both their separate and interactive behaviour. 

The group capitalizes on combining these approaches to tackle important questions concerning what constrains present climate, how it could have been different in the past, and how climate may change under future global warming. To this end, RG4 collaborates actively with the Bjerknes Centre’s other research groups on climate modelling, model development, atmosphere-ocean-ice processes, and the study of paleoclimates.


Research themes include:

  • Arctic atmosphere-ice-ocean interactions
  • Natural and forced variability
  • Physical frameworks for paleoclimate


Specific research topics of current interest are:

  • Can we understand the recent decline in Arctic ice volume and thickness in terms of seasons (winter versus summer), sectors (Barents versus Siberian), dynamics (ocean-controlled non-freezing versus atmosphere-controlled melting), natural variability versus anthropogenic forcing? Can we identify the teleconnections involved?
  • To what extent is the character of different atmospheric jets (North Atlantic, North Pacific, Southern Hemisphere sectors) controlled or modified by external forcing (e.g., tropical heating, high latitude cooling), boundary conditions (e.g., geography, topography) and oceanic variability?
  • Climate variability and change is manifested in the variable heat and freshwater content of the northern seas. To what extent (and on what time scales) are observed changes rooted in regional atmosphere-ice-ocean interactions? To what extent does variability in the reservoir of heat and salt upstream in the Atlantic Ocean contribute?


Research projects


  • DYNAWARM (Dynamics of warm climates), 2011-2015, SKD
  • IMMUNITY (Integrated model-data approach for understanding multidecadal natural   climate variability), 2011-2015, SFF/SKD
  • Contribution to the IPCC 5th AR, 2011-2014, SKD
  • PRACTICE (Predictability of Arctic/North Atlantic climate), 2011-2014, SKD
  • SEALEV (Sea level change and ice sheet dynamics), 2011-2014, SKD


  • AiSSESS (Antarctic ice shelf - shelf - slope exchange study), 2013-2016, NFR
  • BlueArc (Impact of Blue Arctic on Climate at High Latitudes), 2011-2013, NFR
  • EarthClim (Integrated Earth System Approach to Explore Natural Variability and Climate Sensitivity), 2011-2014, NFR
  • EPOCASA (Enhancing seasonal-to-decadal Prediction Of Climate for the North Atlantic Sector and Arctic), 2014–2017, NFR
  • EVA (Earth system modelling of climate Variations in the Anthropocene), 2014-2017, NFR
  • GOCE-MTD (GOCE studies of mean dynamic topography and ocean circulation in the high latitude and Arctic Ocean), 2012–2015, NFR
  • GREENICE (Impact of future cryospheric changes on Northern Hemisphere climate, green growth and society), 2014 – 2016, NordForsk
  • HIMWARC (High Impact Weather in the Arctic - Fundamental Understanding and Future Projections), 2010-2015, NFR
  • NMDC (Norwegian Marine Data Centre), 2012-2017, NFR
  • NoAClim (No-analogue climates and ecological responses in the past and future), 2013 – 2016, NFR
  • NorArgo (A Norwegian Argo Infrastructure), 2012 - 2015, NFR
  • NorIndia, NFR and Statkraft Norfund Power Invest AS
  • NORTH (NORthern constraints on the Atlantic ThermoHaline circulation), 2014-2017, NFR
  • OCCP: Ocean Controls on high latitude Climate sensitivity – a Pliocene case study, Research Council of Norway, 2013-2017, NFR
  • PolarBuoy (Real time climate observations at the position of weather ship Mike), 2010-2014, NFR
  • REOCIRC (Remote Sensing of Ocean Circulation and Environmental Mass Changes), 2013-2016, NFR
  • ResClim (Norwegian Research School in Climate Dynamics), 2009-2016, NFR
  • WEDDELL (Antarctic Ice Shelves and Ocean Climate), 2011-2014, NFR


  • E-AIMS (Euro-Argo Improvements for the GMES Marine Service), 2013-2015, EU
  • EGO (European Gliding Observatories Network), 2008- ongoing, EU-COST
  • FixO3 (Fixed Point Open Ocean Observatories Network), 2013-2016, EU-FP7
  • GROOM (Gliders for Research, Ocean Observation and Management), 2011-2014, EU-FP7
  • INDO-MARECLIM (Indo-European research facilities for studies on marine ecosystem and climate in India), 2012-2014, EU-FP7
  • NACLIM (North Atlantic Climate: Predictability of the climate in the North Atlantic/European sector related to North Atlantic/Arctic sea surface temperature and sea ice variability and change), 2012-2016, EU-FP7
  • NeXOS (Next generation, Cost-effective, Compact, Multifunctional Web Enabled Ocean Sensor Systems Empowering Marine, Maritime and Fisheries Management), 2013-2017, EU-FP7
  • PREFACE (Enhancing prediction of tropical Atlantic climate and its impacts), 2013-2017, EU-FP7
  • SIOS-PP (Svalbard Integrated Arctic Earth Observing System - Preparatory Phase), 2010-2014, EU-FP7


Research Group 4

Leader:   Camille Li
Co-leader: Tor Eldevik



Laura Ciasto, Tore Furevik, Stefan Keiderling, Erlend Knudsen, Nils Gunner Kvamstø,  Iselin Medhaug, Susana Mendes, Kjell Arne Mork, Jan Even Nilsen, Aleksi Nummelin, Ingrid Onarheim, Odd Helge Otterå, Øystein Skagseth, Asgeir Sorteberg, Thomas Spengler, Clemens Spensberger, Svetlana Sorokina, Peter Thorne, Thomas Toniazzo, Ellen Viste, Kjetil Våge, Justin Wettstein, Svein Østerhus, Marius Årthun