I am the Chair of Earth System Dynamics and Modelling and my ORCID is 0000-0001-7526-560X.
I can be found in room 351, Grant Institute, Kings Buildings. I joined the University in July 2007 and before then I worked for the Met Office’s Hadley Centre. I joined the Hadley Centre in 1991 where I worked on mechanisms of Climate Variability and the detection and attribution of climate change. In 2001 I got promoted to manage a team of scientists who researched observed climate change. I improved their information technology so that the systems used for near-real-time climate monitoring were more robust. I also focused the team on producing error estimates. On the side I attempted to model the climate of the last 500 years and found that early CO2 emissions may have had a significant effect on tropical temperatures by the early 19th century.
I am the Chair of Earth System dynamics and modelling at the University of Edinburgh where I also, in 1992, received my PhD. I previously worked at the Hadley Centre as a research scientist where I, with others, showed that human emissions of carbon dioxide were likely to be responsible for 20th century warming. After this I managed a team of scientists who created datasets of historical climate change from the atmosphere, sea and land surface and the sub-surface ocean with comprehensive uncertainty estimates. I also carried out and analysed simulations of the climate of the last 500 years. I have published more than 100 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters, won the Norber-Gerbier WMO prize twice (1997, 1998), a NOAA prize for best scientific paper (1998), the L G Groves prize for Meteorology (2006) and gave the Margary lecture to the Royal Meteorological Society in 2007. I contributed to the last three IPCC assessments, provided scientific advice to the UK government I am also a Chartered Meteorologist and a member of NERC’s advisory network
My research interests are very broad ranging from methods to reconstruct past climate from proxy records, such as tree rings, and instrumental data, through to modelling future climate. At the heart of my research is the quantitative analysis of models and observations of climate change in order to constrain the future. I’m also interested in extreme climate events and their causes.
My current research has been about extreme events largely in China where with CSSP funding I have been investigating the ability of climate models to simulate extreme events that are relevent to society. This has largely focused on extreme temperatures both “dry bulb” and “wet bulb” in China. I have also led a series of workshop with Chinese and Brizillian scientists where we carried out event attribution studies to see how how much human influences had affected observed observed extreme events. As expected we found large increases in the probability of extreme temperature events. Surprisingly we found significant changes in the probability of hydrological extremes.
I also am interested in the use of optimsation methods applied to climate models to constrain future climate change and currently have a student working on Machine Learning for convective parmaeterisation.
I am interested in supervising potential PhD students who have strong computation and mathematical skills.
I teach on several courses:
- Introduction to Three Dimensional Climate Modelling — this is a level 11 course and I am course organisor. This courses aims to give students an understanding of how climate models work and give them soem experience using them.
- Physics of Climate — this is a level 10 course and I am course organisor. This course covers simple climate models, climate feedbacks and radiation transfer in the atmosphere.
- Earth Modelling and Prediction 2 — this is a level 8 course aiming to teach Earth Scientists relevant mathematics. I apply the mathematics to rivers and oceans as two relevant examples of balanced flow.
- Physical Gegraphy — a level 8 course taken by Geographers in their first year. The course aims to give students a broad overview of Physical Geography. I teach5 lectures, and a computing lab, on weather and climate.
I like to have a cup of tea around 3.30. If you have something interesting to discuss with me related to climate (or anything else) you are welcome to join me! (Though in these COVID days you will need to do this virtually)
Here is some of my old talks and presentations.
- Presentation to NCAS-Climate (Reading 2012) on tuning models to top of atmosphere radiation and iits relationship to climate sensitivity.
- Presentation to Cairn Energy on Climate Change (2009). This talk attempts to convince them that CO2 has changed due to human activities, that climate has changed and that people are responsible for that. It then concludes with some work from Myles Allen showing that there is about 1/2 Tg of Carbon that can be emitted to avoid 2K warming. On the way it also describes how climate models work!
- Presentation to Colleagues on Causes of European Climate change . This talk looks at observed changes in rainfall and temperature and shows it is likely that changes in European climate are caused by human drivers.
- Presentation to Climate Change Business Delivery Group on observing and modelling climate change. The audience was a group of business leaders. The aim of the talk was to give them a whistle stop tour of observations, modelling, attribution of climate change and future projections.
- Lecture given to informatics MSc students on modelling climate change. The aim of the talk was to give them some appreciation of the methods used in climate modelling. A slightly modified version of this talk was given to Engineering in the University of Edinburgh. It includes some more material on parametrisation.
- Inaugural Lecture given 17/3/08. A fairly general lecture entitled “Climate Change: Observing and Simulating the Past; Predicting the Future”
- 10 Minute talk at Scottish Museum given 10/4/08. A very general and short talk on observations and modelling of climate given to a public climate change event at the Scottish Museum.
- Talk to the Scottish branch of the Royal Met. Soc. Given 9/1/2009. An extended version of the Margary lecture I gave in October 2007.
- A talk on the relationship between energy and precipitation given to a small group within the School.