Dr Nick Dunstone

Areas of expertise

  • Inter-annual to decadal climate prediction and variability.

  • Assimilation of observations for the initialisation of climate model.

  • Analysis of sub-surface ocean observations.

  • Assessment of forecast skill.

  • Predictability of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation.

Publications by Nick

Current activities

Nick leads a small group of scientists working to understand the mechanisms that drive regional climate variability in different parts of the globe. A physical understanding of the dynamical processes that drive climate variability can give us increased confidence in our near-term climate predictions and projections.

Most recently Nick published work in Nature Geoscience showing that the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), the prime driver of European winter climate variability, can be skilfully predicted one year ahead of winter. This is an exciting first step in developing useful winter climate predictions and services beyond the seasonal timescale.

The group is also particularly interested in exploring what is dynamically possible in the current climate but simply has yet to be observed due to the relatively short observed 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. Such improved estimates of risk are potentially very valuable to many users, e.g. the insurance industry.

Nick maintains a continued interest in understanding the relative role of long-timescale ocean circulations versus changes in anthropogenic forcings (e.g. industrial aerosol emissions) in driving historical and future climate variability.

Nick is also the deputy lead scientist on a UK-China joint project, Climate Science for Services Partnership (CSSP-China), which brings together researchers from within the Met Office, the wider UK academic community and China. Here he and his team are working to understand what drives impactful climate events such as summer flooding in the Yangtze River basin, or cold Chinese winters.

Career background

Nick became the scientific manager of the Climate Dynamics group in 2014 - part of the larger Monthly to Decadal Climate Prediction group led by Prof. Adam Scaife. Prior to this Nick worked mainly in the relatively new area of initialised decadal climate predictions, following the pioneering work by Dr Doug Smith. Nick managed the development of the latest version of the Met Office Decadal Climate Prediction Sytems (DePreSys3). Before joining the Met Office Hadley Centre in 2008, Nick completed a PhD in Astrophysics at the University of St Andrews in Scotland.

External recognition

Nick was awarded the European Geosciences Union: “Division Outstanding Young Scientists Award” in 2014.