Helping the UK prepare

UK flooding

We work with governments and businesses to help society adapt to climate variability and change

Our research increasingly focuses on the regional impacts of climate change. We are exploring how our in-depth knowledge of climate can be applied in sections of society that are vulnerable to weather. Our aim is to inform government, business and industry so they may better understand the impacts of climate variability and change, and plan for the future.

Our research on impacts has become ever more important in helping governments and organisations explore the risks and opportunities posed by extremes of weather and a changing climate. This is crucial to developing appropriate adaptation strategies. To that end we have a range of products and services - known as Climate Service UK - that provide the vital information, tools and support needed to help manage climate variability and change.

In 2011, we compiled a review of scientific literature on the observed changes in climate, projections for future change and assessment of the potential impacts of climate change for more than 20 countries, including the UK. Now our Climate Adaptation team is applying observational and modelling data in ways to make it more relevant and helpful to decision-makers.

We are helping the energy industry to mitigate the risk of failure, for example, by identifying future trends in lightning risk. The industry is now planning greater use of lightning arresters to minimise the impact of that increased risk. We are also helping the nuclear power industry plan for future climate extremes to ensure continued safety of building design.

The Met Office is working for global insurance company AXA to investigate the changing future of wind and hail storms across Europe. Our research is helping to identify how climate change may alter the frequency, severity and location of extreme events. This is helping insurers to manage the changing risks posed by the changing climate.

In our work for the UK government, the Climate Adaptation team analyses the implications of climate variability and change on policy. For the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the team contributed to the first nationwide climate change risk assessment across multiple sectors. For the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) we are analysing the climate's likely impact on renewable energy production and demand-supply balancing.

We are also helping the rail industry to explore the implications of more frequent high temperatures and increased extreme rainfall for its infrastructure and failure rates. And our ongoing work with the Highways Agency also helps them to plan road maintenance and construction in the light of climate variability and change - for instance road surfaces that are more resistant to melting, and larger rainwater channels.

Much of the Climate Adaptation team's work involves interacting with industry specialists to ensure common understanding and usefulness of the risk information. Appreciating how customers use climate records and projections enables us to enhance the targeting of our underpinning climate research to be of most benefit.

The Climate Adaptation team at the Met Office:

  • systematically assesses an organisation's vulnerability to current weather and climate,
  • gathers together known impacts information, such as weather-asset relationships or key vulnerability thresholds,
  • investigates where relationships or thresholds aren't known,
  • identifies useful risk metrics, combining both hazard and vulnerability information,
  • calculates current and future risk using climate observations and projections,
  • explores how different adaptation options may reduce future risks.

Last updated: 25 June 2014