An external view of the Met Office building at night.

James Murphy

Areas of expertise

  • Ensemble climate prediction.

  • Regional climate modelling.

  • Climate extremes.

  • Probabilistic projections and scenario development.

  • Quantification of uncertainties and observational constraints.

Current activities

James's research interests reflect those of his group, involving the design, implementation and exploitation of modelling systems to provide the best possible information on future climate variability and change.

During the past few years James has been involved in:

  • overseeing and helping with the development of systematic techniques to sample modelling uncertainties;

  • methodologies to constrain model projections with observations and account for the effects of structural model errors;

  • interactions between feedbacks in different Earth system processes;

  • the design, use and assessment of regional modelling systems to add skilful detail to global model projections and represent associated uncertainties (see PRECIS);

  • the understanding and projection of future changes in extreme events;

  • the potential to improve decadal climate projections by initialising models with observations.

He has been closely involved in the development and documentation of the UKCP09 probabilistic climate scenarios produced by the Seamless Ensemble Prediction  team for the UK, and also in the EU ENSEMBLES project, to which the group contributed probabilistic climate change projections for Europe at large regional scales, an ensemble of initialised decadal projections, and part of a multi-model matrix of detailed regional climate projections.

For the future, the task of bringing together such elements in a new prediction system seamless across a range of time scales represents an exciting challenge.

Career background

James gained a degree in Physics from the University of Manchester in 1979, and joined the Met Office in 1981, following a period of postgraduate research in galaxy dynamics. He spent seven years working on dynamical monthly forecasting, and moved to the modelling climate change group in 1988, becoming part of the Met Office Hadley Centre in 1990. James spent the 1990s working on global coupled ocean-atmosphere projections of climate change, and managing a team developing our regional climate modelling capability. He then led small teams developing new initiatives in initialised projections of decadal climate variability and change, and ensemble techniques to quantify uncertainties in projections of climate change. James became a Scientific Strategic Head in 2003, and has led the Climate Prediction group since. The group currently consists of teams working in Seamless Ensemble Prediction, Extreme events and Regional climate modelling.

External recognition

  • L F Richardson Prize of the Royal Meteorological Society (1989), for paper on dynamical forecasting of monthly climate anomalies.

  • L G Groves Memorial Prize for Meteorology (1993), for papers describing the first coupled ocean-atmosphere model projections of global climate change carried out at the Met Office Hadley Centre.

  • Contributing author to second and third IPCC Working Group I assessments of the science of climate change, and a lead author in the Fourth Assessment Report (2001).