The Physical Oceanography Research Group (PO.Res.Grp) within the Department of Geosciences of the University of Malta is a partner in LIFE RBMP project, LIFE 16 IPE MT 008: Optimising the implementation of the 2nd RBMP in the Malta River Basin District. The expected outcomes envisage the design of:
- a marine data acquisition system of operational automated observing platforms for routine long term and real time monitoring for the Maltese Islands to complement the existing local station observations, comprising the setting up of a first phase of operational installations at sea, and
- a comprehensive marine modelling system to serve as a tool to provide a baseline oceanographic characterisation of Maltese waters down to coastal scales, contributing to the requirements of the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), with particular focus to the development of a capacity to assess hydrographical changes.
Atmospheric fields constitute an essential ingredient for the forcing of the primary models envisaged in this project. Essential atmospheric parameters needed are air temperature, 2m dew point temperature, total cloud cover, total precipitation rate, mean sea level atmospheric pressure, and meridional and zonal 10m wind components. Higher resolution atmospheric forcing is necessary to simulate the coastal scale process at sufficient spatial and temporal resolutions. A high-resolution shelf scale model domain with typical horizontal resolutions of 2-3 km with a forecasting horizon of 5-7 days, and covering an extended domain around the Maltese Islands defined by Longitude: 13.0◦E to 16.0◦E and Latitude: 35.0◦N to 37.5◦N.
This atmospheric model implementation is expected to be based on the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model with the target of providing adequate surface forcing and fluxes for the coastal ocean models. WRF is a state of the art weather prediction modelling system. It is a non-hydrostatic two-way interactive nesting modelling system. WRF is to be initialized and run by using global analysis and prediction fields from NCEP/GFS, ECMWF or from other global modelling systems. A special version of WRF model is the WRF/Chem with the sub-models for dust cycle and air quality, downscaled from Copernicus Air Quality monitoring Service. This version of the model is considered as the most appropriate for the Mediterranean Region because of the dust cycle sub-model. Dust is always present in the Mediterranean Region because of the transport from North Africa (Sahara) towards North. Dust has significant impacts on radiative balance, surface and air temperature. WRF/Chem (with activation only of the dust cycle) is thus expected to be used for a high resolution atmospheric model covering the domain of the primary models envisaged in the project.
The expected system will be further composed of another further level of resolution over a more focused domain comprising an area covering the nearshore waters and whole territory of the Maltese Islands, to be nested within the larger domain model with the proper ratio; the required resolution is 0.5 km with a forecasting horizon of 3-days. The domain is expected to be defined by Longitude: 13.9◦E to 14.70◦E and Latitude: 35.6◦N to 36.3◦N. In case of complex coastal zones where sub-kilometer resolution is required the Regional Atmospheric Modelling System/Integrated Community Limited Area Modelling System (RAMS/ICLAMS) is recommended. RAMS/ICLAMS has the capability to cover cases with extremely high resolution of the order of hundreds of meters.
Both models are to be set up in operational mode on the computing facilities of the PO.Res.Grp. The services of an atmospheric numerical modelling expert is thus required to (i) develop the models described above; (ii) set up the operational chain to access forcing data from external sources, integrate computing resources and run scripts that provide model forecast outputs readymade for publishing to users or use in other dedicated models; (iii) validate the model against observations and other existing more primitive atmospheric models; (iv) provide training to local staff at the PO.Res.Grp who will need to maintain the operational system. The selected expert is expected to have a track record on numerical modelling of atmospheric systems through the engagement in similar previous activities, preferably supported by relevant publications. The expected skills comprise a solid command of Fortran programming, high proficiency in working with High Performance Computing (HPC) platforms, Linux operating systems, and running of operational codes, as well as a good command of software processing tools like Python and Matlab.
All the work and model implementation will be conducted in collaboration with the staff of the Physical Oceanography Research Group under the direction of Prof. Aldo Drago, the UM responsible for this LIFE project. The entire model and forecasting system will be set up on the computing system of the University of Malta where the developments and running codes will reside and where all derived materials such as codes and results will be archived. Moreover, the work will be conducted in collaboration with designated staff of the Physical Oceanography Research Group who will be trained to interpret and have a handle on all the model components and its operational delivery.
The engagement is expected to run over six months October 2020 to March 2021 although this schedule may be expected to alter by a few months depending on the project implementation needs.
In the case that the consultant is not resident in Malta, he/she is expected to work mainly remotely, but will need to travel to Malta according to needs. Any travel needed for the project will be paid by the PO.Res. Grp from the project funds outside this contract.
The remuneration of this work is expected to be a maximum of EUR 10,000 (excluding VAT). The selection of the consultant will be done by a designated committee from the University of Malta.
Progress reports are expected on a bi-monthly basis. Descriptions of the model code and its operation are expected during the implementation of the activity. At the end a detailed report is expected which describes the system and details the operational running methodology to be executed by local staff at the Physical Oceanography Research Group.
The consultant is expected to submit any further technical reports as requested by the UM project responsible leader, Prof. Aldo Drago.
Payment will be done in three tranches: 30% upon signature of contract, 30% after execution of the regional model, and remaining 40% upon completion of the full work.
Interested persons should contact Professor Aldo Drago via email.