Exeter builds on its world-class status as centre for climate research

In Devon the concentration of environmental scientists is four times higher than the national UK average and Exeter is widely recognised as a global centre for climate science research with teams of scientists at both the Met Office and the University of Exeter.

City of Exeter

Exeter is increasing its reputation for a world-class centre for climate research. Pic: Shutterstock.

And now the bonds between two key organisations in this world-class hub have been strengthened with the recruitment of nine Met Office scientists, who will work one day per week at the University of Exeter’ Global Systems Institute (GSI).

The appointments will strengthen ties with the Met Office and boost both knowledge and cooperation in the GSI and the wider University.

The scientists bring expertise on a variety of subjects, ranging from government policy and climate computer models, to the impacts of climate change on human migration.

Professor Stephen Belcher is the Met Office’s chief scientist. Commenting on the closer collaboration between the two organisations, he said:  “Global climate change is not going to be solved by one individual or one organisation. By building stronger bonds with a range of organisations across a range of disciplines we’re able to share the Met Office’s expertise, allowing scientists to collaborate and learn from the experience of others.”

Professor Tim Lenton is the director of the Global Systems Institute. He said: “The Global Systems Institute is uniting a trans-disciplinary group of researchers, educators and partners.

“Joint appointments such as these, with the Met Office, help us build the kind of collaborations we need to come up with networked solutions to complex global problems.”

Spanning a huge breadth of scientific disciplines, the nine scientists are enthusiastic about the opportunities. Here are some of their views.

Dr Catherine Bradshaw said: “For food security, and especially monitoring crop pests and diseases, it’s exciting to join up the cutting-edge research of the University with the possibility of turning that science into new operational systems at the Met Office.”

Dr Rob Chadwick added: “I’m working closely with the climate dynamics group at the University, supervising a PhD student examining the response of monsoon rainfall to climate change and a postdoctoral researcher working on the impacts of El Niño in a changing climate.”

Dr James Manners is a senior scientist at the Met Office. He said: “I see my role acting as a link between the climate, space weather, and exoplanet modelling communities to push boundaries. My initial focus is investigating the effects of solar variability on the upper atmosphere and how this might affect the climate at the surface.”

Dr Niall Robinson added: “I’m excited about joining the Global Systems Institute so I can work on research which spans disciplines – I think this is where the most interesting research is happening now.

“Working at the University will allow me to carry out some really ambitious research which can then feed into my work at the Met Office, where I can work on some real-world applications.”

Dr Helen Webster, said: “My role involves conducting research into the transport and dispersion of potentially hazardous substances in the atmosphere. It involves developing atmospheric dispersion models and applying them to a wide-range of natural and man-made hazards, including volcanic eruptions, air quality and pollution, animal, human and plant diseases, chemical, biological and radiological releases, fires and Saharan dust.”

Dr Andy Wiltshire, Head, Earth System and Mitigation Science (ESMS) and Terrestrial Carbon Cycle Manager, concluded: “I look forward to jointly developing the next generation vegetation and carbon cycle models that are essential to understanding the impacts of climate change and to investigate how the land can be managed to offset ongoing fossil fuel emissions.”

The new staff are: Dr Catherine Bradshaw, Dr Rob Chadwick, Dr Kirsty Lewis, Dr James Manners, Dr Doug McNeall, Dr Niall Robinson, Dr Helen Webster, Dr Karina Williams and Dr Andy Wiltshire.

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