Spencer works on the terrestrial carbon cycle with a particular interest in the mitigation of climate change.
Areas of expertise:
carbon cycle modelling (terrestrial / ocean);
the role of agriculture in climate change mitigation;
the Joint UK Land Environment Simulator (JULES) model.
Spencer is a scientist working on the terrestrial carbon cycle. He uses Met Office models to study climate-carbon cycle interactions, and how these change in response to external forcing and feedbacks between the two. A recent idealised experiment with the model HadCM3LC investigated the extent to which the earth system can 'recover' from varying degrees of climate change in the absence of further CO2 emissions, and the rate at which recovery occurs.
Another area of research investigates the extent to which modification of current agricultural practices can mitigate climate change. To this end, a version of the land surface model Joint UK Land Environment Simulator (JULES) has been developed to include a variety of tillage practices and related procedures. The model will be used to explore the ability of such practices to enhance carbon storage in the soil, thereby reducing atmospheric CO2, and to reduce the emission of N2O following fertilizer application. This work is in conjunction with scientists at the University of Aberdeen.
Spencer has recently been involved in preparing the Met Office's new Earth System model HadGEM2-ES to perform simulations for the IPCC's fifth assessment report (AR5). His role has been to configure the model to generate the hundreds of different diagnostics required for analysis under AR5.
Spencer joined the Met Office Hadley Centre in 2002, initially to work on the project NOCES: the Northern Ocean-Atmosphere Carbon Exchange Study. He was
subsequently involved in other projects concerned primarily with the carbon cycle, before joining the Terrestrial Carbon Cycle group in 2008. Spencer completed a B.Sc. in Chemistry and Mathematics at the University of Exeter, followed by an M.Sc. in Computational Fluid Dynamics at Imperial College, London.