Prof. Chris Folland

Chris works part time on seasonal forecasting, seasonal to multidecadal climate variability, and as an advisor to the Met Office Hadley Centre.

Current activities

Chris carries out research on observed and modelled climate variability and into practical seasonal to annual long-range forecasting and predictability. He also contributes to the regular experimental seasonal long-range forecasts. He has a number of international collaborations involving many countries worldwide, particularly USA, Australia, China and Sweden.

Chris's current work is focused on the predictability of winter seasonal climate over Europe, understanding links between European summer climate and its predictability and the West African Monsoon, and the predictability and operational prediction of average global temperature a year ahead. Chris uses results from the HadGEM family of models to guide research on winter predictability, and a range of observed data sets. Research on summer climate is currently focused on sources of predictability including links to the West African monsoon using models and observations. The global temperature research uses several observed global temperature data sets, a variety of other types of observed data, and El Niño forecasts from the GloSea4 seasonal forecast systems.

Chris also provides more general advice to the Heads of Monthly to Decadal Prediction and Climate Monitoring and Attribution. In addition, he collaborates, as co-chair, with the Director of the  Centre for Ocean Land Atmosphere Studies, Maryland, USA, on the WCRP-CLIVAR  C20C project. This international modelling project is concerned with simulating and studying the mechanisms and predictability of observed climate variability and aspects of climate change.

Career background

After obtaining a BSc(Hons) in Physics at Reading University in 1966, Chris joined the then National Institute of Oceanography working on deep ocean currents, including two spells at sea. Joining the Met Office in 1968, after training he went to the Operational Instrumentation Branch in 1969. He became the manager of its Sensor Development group in 1970 developing surface instruments including the earliest usable humidity measurements on ocean buoys.

Chris joined the Synoptic Climatology Branch in 1974, working on climate change and operational monthly forecasting. Promoted in 1976, he became a manager in the Agriculture and Hydrometeorology branch of hydrometeorological research and related commercial activities. Most important was serving as Met Office representative 1976-1980 on the National Working Group on the Hydraulic Design of Storm Sewers, involving interactions with leading civil engineers. He rejoined the Synoptic Climatology Branch in 1980, managing the development of UK monthly long-range forecasts, the global sea surface and night marine air temperature data sets, and some work on climate change. He introduced tropical seasonal forecasting into the Met Office in 1986.

After an exchange visit to the Climate Analysis Centre in Washington DC, USA in 1988-1989, he joined the Met Office Hadley Centre in 1990 as an Individual Merit scientist (Met Office Fellow) and Head of Climate Variability, later Climate Variability and Forecasting. His main activities, many collaborative, were in climate change and variability, data set development and applied climate modelling. He served four times as a Lead Author for the  IPCC.

Throughout his career, Chris has been involved in a wide range of WMO activities. He retired in April 2008 to take his current position the following June.

External recognition

  • Chris was a member of the Council of the Royal Meteorological Society from 1978 to 1981 and of its Education Committee from 1976 to 1981.
  • Chris received the 1986  RMetS Hugh Robert Mill prize, mainly for developing a quantitative theory of raingauge exposure and a new raingauge. Jointly with David Parker, he won the 1991 L.G. Groves Memorial Prize for Meteorology for developing sea surface temperature data sets and applying them to climate problems. Chris also shared the 1996 WMO International Norbert Gerbier-Mumm prize for leading research and applications in tropical seasonal forecasting.
  • Chris was a Coordinating Lead Author of the IPCC 1990 Report (FAR), its 1992 Supplementary report and the 2001 Report (TAR). He was also a Lead author of the 1996 Report (SAR), a contributing author and reviewer of the  2007 Report (AR4) and a reviewer of the 2013 Report (AR5). Lead IPCC authors shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. 
  • Chris chaired the C20C project in the mid 1990s and has continued as co-chair since it restarted in 2000 and its inception as a CLIVAR project in 2003. He is also a member of the AMS Climate Variability and Change Committee.
  • Chris has been a Fellow of the AMS since 2003, Fellow of the  Institute of Physics since 1996, Fellow of the RMetS since 1967 and Fellow of the  Link Foundation of New Zealand since 1993. He is a Chartered Scientist and Chartered Physicist through the Institute of Physics. In 2011, Chris became a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union; only 1 in 1000 AGU members are elected to Fellow in a given year.
  • Chris has been an Honorary Professor at the  School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia since 2003, and an Adjunct Professor at the  Australian Centre for Sustainable Catchments, University of Southern Queensland since 2009. In 2011 he also became a Guest Professor of Climatology at the Department of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Physics, at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, and was formally inaugurated in 2012.

Last updated: 4 April 2014

About Chris Folland

Chris Folland

Chris works on seasonal forecasting and multidecadal climate variability.

Areas of expertise:

  • Applications of modelling climate variability.

  • Observed climate variability and change.

  • Seasonal to interannual forecasting.

  • Climate data set construction.

My Publications - Folland, C