The Met Office and the IPCC

What is the IPCC?

The IPCC is an international scientific organisation that provides research-based information about the causes and consequences of climate change, including both human-influenced and naturally-occurring climate change. It also assesses measures for lessening the severity of climate change and the potential for adapting to its consequences. Its purpose is to inform government policy, but it does not recommend which policies governments should adopt.

The IPCC was formed in 1988 by two bodies: the United Nations Environmental Programme and the World Meteorological Organization. Thousands of scientists from across the world voluntarily contribute to its assessment reports, which are published every six years or so.

Our scientists have been most closely involved in Working Group 1, which sets out the physical science basis of climate change. We also have lead authors in Working Group 2, which looks at impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. Met Office research also contributes to Working Group 3, which examines the mitigation of climate change.

The most recent major publication from the IPCC, the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), was published in stages from 2013 to 2014. The Summary for Policymakers, which brings together key aspects of the report, is the work of 209 lead authors and 50 review editors from 39 countries, and over 600 contributing authors from 32 countries. The text of the summary was also reviewed and approved by governments of 195 contributing countries. As an authoritative document, AR5's contents form the evidence basis for decision makers in government, business and organisations around the world.

How is the Met Office involved?

As one of the world's leading climate research centres, the Met Office Hadley Centre is a key contributor to the IPCC process. Seven of our scientists were lead or coordinating lead authors on the AR5 report, for example, and there were numerous other contributing authors from the Met Office. Our observational datasets, climate modelling and numerous peer-reviewed papers from our scientists are also assessed in the reports. Our contribution draws on the breadth of the UK's climate expertise and our partnerships with research establishments across the UK and internationally.

Find out more from Coordinating Lead Author, Peter Stott, in our video about the IPCC process:

In 2018 the IPCC published a Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, in the context of strengthening the global response to climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty. The report, which includes research contributions from Met Office Scientists, was finalised in October 2018.

In August 2019, the IPCC published a Special report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems.

In September 2019, the IPCC published a Special Report on how climate change will affect ocean, coastal, polar and mountain ecosystems, and the human communities that depend on them.

Looking forward, the Sixth Assessment report (AR6) will be published by the IPCC in stages from 2021-2022. The AR6 Synthesis Report, which brings together the key findings of the three Working Group Reports, will be finalised in 2022.

Related links

The Met Office is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites