Dr Gillian Kay

Areas of expertise

  • Assessing likelihood of climate extremes in the current climate
  • Climate variability
  • Land surface-climate interaction

Publications by Gillian Kay

Current activities

At present, Gillian is exploring what is dynamically possible in the current climate but has yet to be observed due to the relatively short historical record. It is now becoming increasingly possible to assess the risk of such unprecedented events using the latest generation of high-resolution climate model simulations. The Climate Dynamics group, which is led by Nick Dunstone, developed the UNSEEN (‘UNprecedented Simulated Extremes using ENsembles’) method that uses very large ensembles of initialised climate predictions to provide improved estimates of risk. This methodology contributed to the UK Government National Flood Resilience Review (NFRR, published in 2016) and has the potential to be valuable to a wide range of users. Gillian is applying this method to cases in the UK and elsewhere to provide better assessment of risk while improving our understanding of the climate dynamics that may lead to such extremes.

Career background

Gillian joined the Climate Dynamics group, which forms part of the wider Monthly to Decadal Variability and Prediction area of the Met Office, in 2018. Prior to that, she worked for some years researching vegetation-climate interactions, with particular interests in tropical forests and moisture stress along moist to arid transitions. As part of a collaborative project with Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE), she worked for six months in Brazil alongside INPE scientists. She has also spent a year working within the Programme Office of the Met Office's Newton Fund Weather and Climate Science for Service Partnership programme.

Before joining the Met Office in 2008, Gillian completed a PhD at the University of Oxford on how climate models simulate variability and change in southern African rainfall. During her time as a doctoral student, she also gained experience in meteorological observations as Observer at the Radcliffe Met. Station in Oxford, the longest continuous record in the UK. In addition, she took part in an intensive observing campaign of the African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analyses project in Nigeria towards improving understanding of the West African Monsoon.