Many of the recent advances in fundamental climate science have been made by researchers with a condensed matter physics background.
Brad Marston of Brown U and colleagues are making progress with their [topologically-constrained climate models](http://science.sciencemag.org/content/358/6366/1075). Marston's presentations are very familiar to those of us that understand the energy band diagrams used in solid-state theory. Equatorial waves have similar dispersion relations to a typical gapped band structure. The topological confinement is very similar to the assumption I am using in solving Laplace's tidal equations (i.e. reduced Navier-Stokes) along the equator.
-- from Wikipedia entry on Topological insulators
John Wettlaufer of Yale U is also applying a similar approach
> [Wettlaufer](https://journals.aps.org/prl/edannounce/10.1103/PhysRevLett.116.150002): “There is a vast gulf, both conceptually and in terms of space and time scales, between simulations and idealized models. Attempts to reconcile them will have to focus on the problem of scales, a task well suited to physicists: The challenge of scale separation in both condensed matter and particle physics led to the development of the renormalization group, unifying concepts in previously disparate fields . Renormalization group concepts and methods have been successfully applied to fluid dynamics problems [6,7], which are central to climate dynamics.”
Wettlaufer has a [recent paper in PRL](https://journals.aps.org/prl/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevLett.121.108701), but prior to that he published an interesting paper that clearly shows the impact of a strong annual impulse on the behavior of ENSO.
[A unified nonlinear stochastic time series analysis for climate science](https://www.nature.com/articles/srep44228)
This is an intriguing model fit feature in the paper
Michael Mann of Penn State also has a background in condensed matter physics.