Prof Richard Betts MBE

Areas of expertise

  • Large-scale modelling of ecosystem-hydrology-climate interactions
  • Land use change and deforestation
  • Integrate impacts modelling

Publications by Richard Betts

Current activities

Richard is Head of the Climate Impacts strategic area, which includes climate impacts research and also the climate change consultancy unit.

The Met Office's main role in climate impacts research is to facilitate a more integrated approach to the assessment of climate change impacts, in collaboration with specialists across the wider academic community. A large part of our impacts research, therefore, involves examining the interactions between different impacts areas, such as agriculture, natural ecosystems, water resources, glaciers, urban areas and human health.

Richard leads the impacts theme of the Joint UK Land Environment Simulator (JULES) community land surface modelling programme. This collaborative project forms part of UK-wide efforts to assess impacts in an internally-consistent manner.

The Met Office's climate change consultancy area works directly with end-users in a wide range of sectors, to ensure climate change information is used effectively for decision-making. This end-user contact also informs our research direction to keep it relevant to user needs.

Career background

  • BSc (Physics), University of Bristol, 1991.

  • MSc (Meteorology and Applied Climatology), University of Birmingham, 1992.

  • PhD (Meteorology), University of Reading, 1998.

Richard joined the Met Office Hadley Centre in 1992 to work on the new land surface scheme of the Unified Model, the Met Office Surface Exchange Scheme (MOSES). His work on the second version (MOSESII) involved implementing the tiled land surface representation and coupling the TRIFFID vegetation model. Between 1994–1998 I also worked on my PhD on modelling the influence of the vegetated land surface on climate and climate change.

In 2002–2003 Richard spent four months at CSIRO and the Australian National University working on landscape fire modelling. In 2003 he became manager of the new Ecosystems and Climate Impacts team, leading the development of this new science area in the Met Office and in 2007 he became head of the new Climate Impacts strategic area.

His research interests include:

  • Climate change impacts on water resources and the role of vegetation in modifying this impact.

  • Climate change impacts on large-scale ecosystems and interactions with deforestation (with a particular interest in Amazonia).

  • Effects of deforestation, afforestation and Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) on climate.

  • Interactions between urban effects and climate change.

External recognition

  • Lead Author, IPCC 4th Assessment Report (Working Group 1).

  • Contributing Author, IPCC 4th Assessment Report (Working Group 2).

  • Lead Author, Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.

  • Reviewer, Stern Review on Economics of Climate Change.

  • Editor, International Journal of Global Warming.

  • Editor, Journal of Environmental Investing.

  • Editor, Earth System Dynamics.

  • Guest Editor, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.

  • Scientific Advisory Committee Member, European Research Course on Atmospheres.