Penny is a climate scientist working on a framework to study uncertainties in dangerous climate impacts.
Penny's current work is contributing towards a robust scientific understanding of the nature of dangerous climate change and the range of greenhouse gas emissions that could cause or avoid such change. 'Dangerous climate change' can be defined in different ways, here it refers to major impacts on key regions of the globe or major changes to key components of the Earth system. This work is aiming towards a framework to identify uncertainties in 'dangerous' regional impacts and assess the range of emissions trajectories that would risk causing these regional changes.
The typical method of assessing regional impacts uses climate models driven with prescribed greenhouse gas concentrations to produce a range of possible outcomes. This often leads to a large range of uncertainty in the impacts. The methodology being developed by Penny reverses this technique, and instead begins with defining what changes are considered to be dangerous impacts within a specific region. These metrics can then be used with ensembles of climate models to look at future changes and uncertainties. This may be used to assess when dangerous regional impacts could be realised and to address the question of what range of global warming could lead to the impacts that are considered dangerous.
Penny began her career in the Met Office in 1992 working on stratospheric data assimilation and observation processing. She worked on including extra observation types, from the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite, into the stratospheric modelling system. Subsequently she worked on the implementation of new model and assimilation configurations in the Met Office operational stratospheric forecast model.
In 2001 she began work in the Met Office Hadley Centre looking at the production and analysis of sub-gridscale severe weather phenomena diagnostics (including lightning, hail and gusts) using techniques from weather forecasting. Assessing the model's ability to simulate these variables included evaluating alternative methods of producing each diagnostic, comparisons between model and observations including assessment of model biases, and case studies.
Penny joined the Climate Impacts Analysis team which is part of Climate Impacts in 2009.