Dr Martin Widmann PhD

Dr Martin Widmann

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Senior Lecturer in climate science

Contact details

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr Martin Widmann is a climate scientist. His current main research area is regional climate change, in particular the development and validation of statistical downscaling methods. He also studies past climates; the main activity in this field is the development of data assimilation methods to combine climate simulations with empirical knowledge from proxy data.


  • Dipl. Phys., University of Freiburg, 1992
  • Ph.D., Institute for Atmospheric Science, ETH Zuerich, 1996
  • Postdoc, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of  Washington, Seattle, 1996-1999
  • Scientist, Institute for Coastal Research, GKSS Research Centre, Geesthacht, 1999-2006
  • Guest lecturer at University of Lueneburg, 2000-2003
  • Lecturer, GEES, University of Birmingham, 2006 - 2011
  • Senior Lecturer, GEES, University of Birmingham, 2011-present 

Postgraduate supervision

PhD students (main supervisor)

  • 2012 – present: Anastasios Matsikaris, ‘Palaeo data assimilation with a GCM using an ensemble-based method’.
  • Jonathan Eden, 2007-2011. Estimation of regional precipitation from GCM simulations using model output statistics. School funded
  • Kerstin Prömmel, 2004-2008. Regional climate simulations over the Alps. GKSS Research Centre, Geesthacht, Germany, with Julie Jones. Funded by EU Framework
  • Nikolaus Groll, 2003-2006. Sensitivity of teleconnections and interscale relationships to orbital forcing, GKSS Research Centre, Geesthacht, Germany, with Julie Jones. Funded by German climate research program DEKLIM, as well as by the Helmholtz Society, Germany


Research groups

  • Climate & Atmosphere
  • Geosystems

Research interests

  • climate modelling
  • past and future climate change
  • data assimilation in palaeoclimatology
  • statistical downscaling for precipitation 

Current / recent research

Transient GCM simulations of the mid-Holocene climate and comparison with palaeoclimate proxy data

Together with Sebastian Wagner (GKSS Research Centre, Geesthacht, Germany) and Julie Jones (University of Sheffield) I am investigating the climate response to orbital and solar forcing using transient simulations for the mid-Holocene (7.0-4.5 ka BP) with a coupled atmosphere-ocean general circulation model (project MIDHOL). In collaboration with colleagues from the universities of Bremen and Cologne we have also performed consistency tests between the statistically downscaled simulations and climate proxy data from North and South America. MIDHOL has been funded by the German climate research programme DEKLIM.

Southern Hemisphere atmospheric circulation

I work with Julie Jones (University of Sheffield) on reconstructions of the state of the Southern Hemisphere Annular Mode (the major mode of extratropical atmospheric circulation in the Southern Hemisphere, also known as the Antarctic Oscillation) from instrumental pressure measurements for the twentieth century, and from tree-ring width chronologies back to the 18th century. This work has been supported by the German climate research programme DEKLIM and the Helmholtz Society.

Correction of precipitation simulated by General Circulation Models using Model Output Statistics 

Simulating precipitation realistically is still a major challenge in climate modelling, because the spatial scales involved are often smaller than the gridcell size used in General Circulation Models (GCMs). I work with Jonathan Eden (University of Birmingham) on developing a method for statistically estimating regional precipitation using GCM-simulated precipitation as a predictor. This is an example for a Model Output Statistics correction method, which is conceptually different from the perfect-prog downscaling usually used in climate change studies. As part of this project we run the ECHAM5 GCM on the BEAR Linux cluster at the University of Birmingham. Once the correction method is developed, it will be applied to GCM simulations for the 21st century.

Data assimilation for palaeoclimatic applications

I have developed a pattern nudging method that allows the specification of  large-scale circulation anomalies in general circulation models. This work is conducted in collaboration with Hans von Storch (GKSS Research Centre, Geesthacht), Reiner Schnur (Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg) and Ingo Kirchner (Free University Berlin) and aims at providing a tool for assimilating large-scale circulation estimates derived from proxy data in simulations with general circulation models. This work has been supported by the German climate research programme DEKLIM and the Helmholtz Society.

Stability of teleconnections and of scale relationships

Together with Nikolaus Groll (GKSS Research Centre, Geesthacht) I have compared temperature teleconnections in the Eemian (the last interglacial about 125 ka ago) and in the preindustrial climate using simulations with General Circulation Models. We have also analysed relationships between large-scale atmospheric circulation and regional temperatures in these simulations. This work shows how orbital forcing changes the mean climate and thus in turn teleconnections and relationships between large-scale and regional climate. It has been supported by the German climate research programme DEKLIM.

Regional climate modelling for the European Alps

In collaboration with Kerstin Prömmel, Beate Mueller (GKSS Research Centre, Geesthacht) and Julie Jones (University of Sheffield) I am involved in the analysis of a regional model simulation over the Alps. We are exploring whether the high-resolution simulation adds value compared to the ERA40 reanalysis. We also are investigating mesoscale climate variability patterns in the region. This work has been funded through the EU Framework 5 project ALP-IMP.

Other activities

Administrative Responsibilities

Program leader MSc Applied Meteorology and Climatology


Key Publications since 2001

Title: Assimilating continental mean temperatures to reconstruct the climate of the late pre-industrial period
Author(s): Matsikaris, A.; Widmann, M.; Jungclaus, J.
Source: Climate Dynamics Volume: 46 Issue: 11-12 Pages: 3547-3566 Published: 2016
DOI: 10.1007/s00382-015-2785-9

Title: Influence of proxy data uncertainty on data assimilation for the past climate
Author(s): Matsikaris, Anastasios; Widmann, Martin; Jungclaus, Johann
Source: Climate of the Past Volume: 12 Issue: 7 Pages: 1555-1563 Published: 2016
DOI: 10.5194/cp-12-1555-2016

Title: Continental-scale temperature variability in PMIP3 simulations and PAGES 2k regional temperature reconstructions over the past millennium
Author(s): Bothe, O.; Evans, M.; Fernandez Donado, L.; et al.
Source: Climate of the Past Volume: 11 Issue: 12 Pages: 1673-1699 Published: 2015
DOI: 10.5194/cp-11-1673-2015

Title: On-line and off-line data assimilation in palaeoclimatology: a case study
Author(s): Matsikaris, A.; Widmann, M.; Jungclaus, J.
Source: Climate of the Past Volume: 11 Issue: 1 Pages: 81-93 Published: 2015
DOI: 10.5194/cp-11-81-2015

Title: The representation of location by a regional climate model in complex terrain
Author(s): Maraun, D.; Widmann, M.
Source: Hydrology and Earth System Sciences Volume: 19 Issue: 8 Pages: 3449-3456 Published: 2015
DOI: 10.5194/hess-19-3449-2015

Title: VALUE: A framework to validate downscaling approaches for climate change studies
Author(s): Maraun, Douglas; Widmann, Martin; Gutierrez, Jose M.; et al.
Source: Earths Future Volume: 3 Issue: 1 Pages: 1-14 Published: JAN 2015
DOI: 10.1002/2014EF000259

Title: Comparison of GCM- and RCM-simulated precipitation following stochastic postprocessing
Author(s): Eden, Jonathan M.; Widmann, Martin; Maraun, Douglas; et al.
Source: Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres Volume: 119 Issue: 19 Pages: 11040-11053 Published: OCT 16 2014
Times Cited: 9
DOI: 10.1002/2014JD021732 

Title: Downscaling of GCM-Simulated Precipitation Using Model Output Statistics
Author(s): Eden, Jonathan M.; Widmann, Martin
Source: Journal of Climate Volume: 27 Issue: 1 Pages: 312-324 Published: JAN 2014
DOI: 10.1175/JCLI-D-13-00063.1

Eden, J.M., M. Widmann, D. Maraun, M. Vrac, 2014: Comparison of GCM- and RCM-simulated precipitation following stochastic postprocessing. J. Geophys. Res, 27(1), in press.

Wong, G., D. Maraun, M. Vrac, M. Widmann, J.M. Eden and T. Kent, 2014: Stochastic model output statistics for correcting and downscaling precipitation including extremes. J. Climate, 28 (18).

Eden, J.M., M. Widmann, 2014: Downscaling of GCM-simulated precipitation using Model Output Statistics. J. Climate, 27(1), 312-324.

Eden, J.M., M. Widmann, and G.R. Evans, 2014: Pacific SST influence on spring precipitation in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Internat. J. Climatology, 34(4), 1223-1235, DOI: 10.1002/joc.3759.

Eden, J.M., Widmann, M., Grawe, D, and Rast. S., 2012: Reassessing the skill of GCM-simulated precipitation. J. Climate, 25(11), 3970-3984.

Widmann, M., H. Goosse, G. van der Schrier, R. Schnur and Jan Barkmeijer, 2010: Using data assimilation to study extratropical Northern Hemisphere climate over the last millennium. Climate of the Past, 6, 627-644.

Maraun, D., A. Ireson, F. Wetterhall, R. Chandler, E. Kendon, M. Widmann, and 11 contributing authors, 2010: Precipitation downscaling under climate change: recent developments to bridge the gap between dynamical models and the end user. Reviews of Geophysics, 48, RG3003. 

Baker, A., A. Asfawossen, I.J. Fairchild, M. Leng, L. Thomas, M. Widmann, C. Jex, B. Dong, P. van Calsteren, and C. Bryant, 2010: Decadal-scale rainfall variability in Ethiopian recorded in an annually laminated, Holocene-age Stalagmite. The Holocene, 20(6), 827-836.

Prömmel, K., B. Geyer, J.M. Jones, and M. Widmann, 2010: Evaluation of the skill and added value of a reanalysis-driven regional simulation for Alpine temperature. Int. J. Climatol., 30, 760-773

Widmann, M., 2009: Delayed Holocene warming. Nature Geoscience, 2, 380-381.

Jones, J.M., R.L. Fogt, M. Widmann, G. Marshall, P. Jones and M. Visbeck, 2009: Historical Southern Hemisphere Annular Mode Variability. Part I: Century Length Seasonal Reconstructions of the Southern Hemisphere Annular Mode. J. Clim., 22, 5319-5345

Wanner, H., Beer, J., Bütikofer, J. Crowley, T., Cubasch, U., Flückiger, J., Goosse, H., Grosjean, M., Joos, F., Kaplan, J.O., Küttel, M., Müller, S., Pentice, C.  Solomina, O., Stocker, T., Tarasov, P., Wagner, M., and Widmann, M., 2008: Mid to late Holocene climate change - an overview, Quaternary Science Reviews, 27(19-20), 1791-1828.

Wagner, S., M. Widmann, J. Jones, T. Haberzettl, A. Lücke, C. Mayr, C. Ohlendorf, F. Schäbitz and B. Zolitschka, 2007: Transient simulations, empirical reconstructions and forcing mechanisms for the Mid-Holocene hydrological climate in Southern Patagonia. Climate Dynamics, 29(4), 333-355.

Widmann, M., N. Groll and J.M. Jones, 2007. Simulated teleconnections during the Eemian, the last glacial inception and the preindustrial period. In Sirocko, F., T. Litt and M. Claussen (eds.): The climate of past interglacials, Elsevier, ISSN 1571-0866, 622pp..

Le Treut, H., R. Sommerville, U. Cubasch, Y. Ding, C. Mauritzen, A. Mokssit, T. Peterson, M.Prather and contributing authors (including M. Widmann), 2007: Historical Overview of Climate Change Science. In: Climate Change 2007 – The Physical Science Basis. IPCC AR4 WG 1, Cambridge University Press.

Christensen, J.H., Hewitson B., Busuioc A., Chen, A., Gao., X., Jones, R., Kwon, W.-T., Laprise, R., Magana, V., Mearns, L. Menenedez, C., Raisaenen, J., Rinke, A., Kolli, R. K., Sarr, A., Whetton, P. and contributing authors (including M. Widmann), 2007: Regional Climate Projections. In: Climate Change 2007 – The Physical Science Basis. IPCC AR4 WG 1, Cambridge University Press.

Groll, N. and M. Widmann, 2006: Sensitivity of temperature teleconnections to orbital changes in AO-GCM simulations. Geophys. Res. Lett., 13(12), Art. No. L12705.

Groll, N., M. Widmann, J. M.Jones, F. Kaspar, and S. Lorenz, 2005: Simulated relationships between regional temperatures and large-scale circulation during the early Eemian interglacial (125 kyr BP) and the pre-industrial period. J. Clim, 18(19), 4035-4048 .

Widmann, M., 2005: One-dimensional CCA and SVD, and their relationship to regression maps. J. Clim., 18(14), 2785-2792.

Jones, J. M. and M. Widmann, 2004: Early peak in Antarctic Oscillation index. Nature, 432(7015), 290-291.

Jones, J. M. and M. Widmann, 2004: Reconstructing large-scale variability from palaeoclimatic evidence by means of Data Assimilation Through Upscaling and Nudging (DATUN). In: H. Fischer, T. Kumke, G. Lohmann, G. Flöser, H. Miller, H. von Storch and J. F. W. Negendank (eds.), 2004: The KIHZ project: towards a synthesis of Holocene proxy data and climate models. Springer, Heidelberg, Berlin, New York. ISSN 1437-028X, p171-193.

Jones, J. M. and M. Widmann, 2003: Instrument- and tree-ring-based estimates for the Antarctic Oscillation. J. Clim., 16(21), 3511-3524.

Widmann, M., C. S. Bretherton, and E. P. Salathé Jr., 2003: Statistical precipitation downscaling over the Northwestern United States using numerically simulated precipitation as a predictor. J. Clim, 16(5), 799-816.

Matulla, C., N. Groll, H. Kromp-Kolb, H. Scheifinger, M. J. Lexer, and M. Widmann, 2002: Climate change scenarios at Austrian National Forest Inventory sites. Clim. Res., 22(2), 161-173.

Giorgi, F., B. Hewitson, J. Christensen, C. Fu, M. Hulme, L. Mearns, H. von Storch, P. Whetton, and contributing authors (including M. Widmann), 2001: Regional Climate Simulation - Evaluation and Projections. In: Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis (IPCC WG1 Third Assessment Report). Cambridge University Press

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