An external view of the Met Office building at night.

Dr Michael Vellinga

Areas of expertise

  • seasonal forecasting for Sub-Saharan Africa;
  • ocean and atmosphere dynamics;
  • modelling anthropogenic change in the global ocean.

Publications by Michael

Current activities

From 2010 to 2012 Michael worked on developing seasonal forecast products for Africa, tailored to specific user requirements. Together with users and stakeholders timing of the onset of the rainy season was identified as an  important quantity. Trial seasonal forecasts for onset were developed for the main rainy seasons in West Africa, the Greater Horn of Africa and Southern Africa, and these forecasts were presented at Regional Climate Outlook Forums. This work was carried out under the Met Office Hadley Centre - DFID Climate Science Research Partnership (CSRP).

Michael's research currently focuses on multi-year changes of rainfall over the Sahel. The aim of his work is improved understanding why many climate models fail to reproduce the magnitude of multi-year rainfall changes that have been observed over the Sahel in the 20th century. Increased understanding of model shortcomings will help to improve the climate models and, eventually, increase confidence in forecasts of future climate change over the Sahel.

By assessing forecasting capabilities for user-relevant quantities, and, where required, providing input to further development of the systems that deliver the products, Michael's work will contribute to the Met Office's capability to provide users in Africa with these relevant forecast products on an operational basis.

Career background

Michael has worked at the Met Office Hadley Centre since 1998. Before that he completed a PhD in physical oceanography at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, in 1997. His work at the Met Office Hadley Centre in the Climate Cryosphere and Oceans area has enabled him to expand his understanding of large-scale interactions between the ocean and the atmosphere. In his previous role of managing the Ocean Model Validation group he was involved in a variety of activities, e.g. improving vertical mixing in the ocean and the project to develop the new Met Office climate model Met Office climate prediction model: HadGEM3 family. Michael moved to the Monthly to Decadal Climate Prediction group in 2010.