An external view of the Met Office building at night.

Dr Hazel Thornton

Areas of expertise

  • Seasonal climate prediction and variability
  • North Atlantic climate
  • Climate impacts
  • Energy Meteorology
  • Climate change adaptation

Publications by Hazel Thornton

Current activities

In contrast to the atmosphere, other parts of the climate system, such as the ocean and land surface, evolve much more slowly and can leave a lasting imprint upon the atmosphere. Seasonal climate prediction requires a coupled ocean-atmosphere climate model and knowledge of the current climate state. Hazel’s research explores the seasonal forecast skill of current coupled modelling systems, such as the Met Office’s GloSea prediction system. Her research focusses on the North Atlantic basin, investigating the model’s ability to represent the key teleconnections and dynamical processes important for seasonal prediction at different times of the year. She also explores the utility of such forecasts, with a focus on applications for the energy industry.

Her team explores seasonal and decadal prediction skill across the globe, with a focus on predictions that are useful for society, including the water, insurance and energy sectors. Activities include analysis of ensemble climate predictions, identifying the best methods to quantify and present risk information, development of trial products and end-user engagement. Current research topics include the application of seasonal and decadal forecasts to tropical and extra-tropical cyclone prediction in the Atlantic and Pacific basins, to regional drought and fire risk in S. America and to UK energy and hydrological applications.  

Career background

Since joining the Met Office in 2002 Hazel has worked on improving the assimilation of humidity observations in the stratosphere, on climate change predictions, impacts and adaptation before moving to research near-term climate predictability. Hazel completed a PhD with the University of Reading on North Atlantic circulation, prediction and energy system impacts, whilst working for the Met Office. 

Prior to arriving at the Met Office, Hazel completed an Atmospheric Sciences Masters (DEA) at the University of Pierre and Marie Curie in Paris, and a BSc in Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia which included a year of oceanography in Marseilles, France. Prior to her Masters Hazel also undertook a work placement in the Environment DG of the European Commission, helping to develop European air quality policy.