An external view of the Met Office building at night.

Dr Ian Totterdell

Areas of Expertise

  • Ocean ecosystem dynamics
  • Marine ecosystem models
  • The ocean carbon cycle and the air-sea flux of CO2
  • Ocean acidification

Publications by Ian

Current Activities

Ian is a senior scientist who studies ocean biogeochemistry, a field which includes ocean biology, marine chemistry and geochemistry and the interactions between them. He develops models of ocean ecosystems and how they interact with the marine carbon cycle and with the cycles of key nutrients such as nitrate, dissolved silicate and dissolved iron. The ecosystem models concentrate on the lower trophic levels (the phytoplankton and zooplankton, being the most important for the climate system), and represent only one or two types of phytoplankton and zooplankton. This simplicity is mainly a result of the requirement that the models be globally applicable, robust and efficient in terms of computer resources needed. The models are used to improve understanding of the ocean's biogeochemical interactions and cycles, and to investigate the mechanisms and strengths of possible future climate feedbacks.
Ian is involved in projects that use the Hadley Centre Ocean Carbon Cycle (HadOCC) model, including one run by Ocean Forecasting Research which is examining the assimilation of ocean colour data into models. Ian and Dr Paul Halloran have also recently used the HadOCC model to examine possible feedbacks as part of the EU-funded CARBOOCEAN project .
Ian's main work currently is with the Met Office climate prediction model: HadGEM2 family earth system model. The ocean biogeochemical component of this model is the Diat-HadOCC model, a development of the HadOCC model that has a separate phytoplankton compartment for diatoms and representations of the silicate and iron cycles and the production of DMS. HadGEM2-ES is being used to run a number of climate simulations for the 5th Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change  Assessment Report. Ian brings ocean biogeochemical expertise to the team analysing the results with the aim of quantifying the feedbacks and investigating how they mitigate or enhance anthropogenic climate change.

Career Background

Ian joined the Met Office Hadley Centre in 2004 and has worked on ocean biogeochemical modelling since that time. 

Ian was awarded a BA in Natural Sciences by the University of Cambridge, and after a year at the University of Bristol obtaining an MSc in Fluid Dynamics returned to Cambridge. Studying in the Faculty of Earth Sciences, he was awarded a PhD for research into seismic imaging techniques.