Our climate science capabilities

Met Office

Our capabilities are underpinned by the Met Office Hadley Centre which delivers world-leading science advice to the UK Government to guide policymaking and international negotiations.

At the heart of the Met Office Hadley Centre are collaborations that ensure the very latest science is shared and used as widely as possible.

The requirements for climate information are becoming more diverse. Closer public scrutiny of climate science means that the need to strengthen the evidence on how and why climate is changing - whether natural or man-made - has never been greater. The difficulty of reaching an international agreement on climate change means that more scientific information is needed to inform choices on mitigation and adaptation.

Governments, organisations and individuals are recognising that they need to build resilience to the current climate and plan to adapt to future climate change. Certainly, the international meteorological community recognises this need, proposing the creation of 'Climate Services' at the World Climate Conference-3 in Geneva in September 2009.

The UK has taken a lead in providing the information needed to plan for the future through the work commissioned by UK government departments, which is delivered by the Met Office Hadley Centre Climate Programme - a key component of the UK's national climate capability owing to its role in managing existing observational datasets, developing climate models, predicting future climate change and providing climate science to meet the government's requirements for climate evidence and advice.

Some of this advice is provided directly by the Met Office Hadley Centre and some indirectly by channelling information and working in partnership with academic and other institutions in the UK as well as partners (in particular those using Met Office models) around the world. A key component is the continued reduction of uncertainty in predictions of future climate change to enable increasingly reliable advice for climate-change policy.

New leadership

In January 2012, Professor Stephen Belcher joined the Met Office to lead the Hadley Centre. He sees its role as helping society adapt to the ways in which our climate changes by using cutting-edge science. But, for Stephen, this raises more questions than the original matter of humanity's impact on the environment.
"This is what the Met Office Hadley Centre has to tackle head on," he says.

"As the Met Office continues its relationship with the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and other government departments we shall emphasise three areas: detection and attribution, seasonal to decadal forecasting, and developing the next generation of climate models," he continues.

Together, these tasks will enable the Met Office to establish the relationship between a climate event and human activity and increase understanding of climate variability and change on timescales between three months and 30 years, including how the various elements that create our climate work together.

Developing the next generation of climate models is a huge endeavour that requires multi-party cooperation across the UK academic community. "The complexity of these climate models continues to increase rapidly," explains Professor Belcher. "We're trying to include things like aspects of the terrestrial carbon cycle (plants and soils), the ocean's biogeochemical cycles, and even the effects of wetlands on the climate. If our Academic Partnership achieves what it sets out to, the next logical step," he says "would be to seek out European academic partnerships."

The work Professor Belcher will be doing as the new Head of the Met Office Hadley Centre will help DECC, Defra, and other stakeholders plan for the future. "Part of our core mission is to provide quantitative estimates of climate change and its impact on different sectors," he explains.

What's more, Stephen sees the potential for the technologies developed at the Met Office Hadley Centre to create new climate services. He concludes, "This is about using our climate simulations and presenting them in creative ways, delivering a type of real-time decision management for decision makers."

Download the PDF Core capabilities - Met Office Hadley Centre Core capabilities - Met Office Hadley Centre (PDF, 364 kB)

Last updated: 21 June 2012