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Leading climate scientist joins University of Reading and the National Centre for Atmospheric Science – University of Reading

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Leading climate scientist joins University of Reading and the National Centre for Atmospheric Science

Release Date 30 August 2011

Professor Bryan Lawrence

The University of Reading's renowned Department of Meteorology and the UK's National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) are to be further strengthened by the appointment of a leading climate scientist.

In September, the Department will welcome Professor Bryan Lawrence as a new Chair in Weather and Climate Computing, a position jointly funded by NCAS, the research centre for atmospheric science of the UK's Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

Professor Lawrence will also become the Director of Models and Data in NCAS.

Climate modelling is key to predicting climate change. By simulating the interactions of the atmosphere, oceans, land surface, and ice, models are used to project future changes resulting from increases in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases.

In the eleven years of his previous role as Director of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Centre for Environmental Data Archival, at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Professor Lawrence has built up an international reputation for addressing the issues associated with managing and curating environmental data. This includes the very large datasets associated with climate modelling and earth observation.

After having major roles in developing both the UK and European strategies for climate modelling, at Reading, Bryan hopes to contribute to turning those strategies into implementations which address the enormous climate simulation problems ahead.

Professor Lawrence said: "In the last decade we have been able to build tools to predict the future of the global mean climate. In the next decade we need to move to reliable projections for use on a regional and local scale. This transition will stress the computational technologies (hardware, software, networks and data systems) that we have and foresee, and our ability to build partnerships on a national and international scale.  

"The University of Reading has always had a prominent role in climate science, and while NCAS is a young institution, together they have recognised the scope of the challenge. I am looking forward to the opportunity of working on solutions with the very many talented individuals already in these institutions."

In his current role Bryan was also head of both the NCAS British Atmospheric Data Centre (BADC) and the NERC Earth Observation Data Centre. Under his leadership the BADC has become one of the major world repositories of atmospheric data, both observations and simulations.

Professor Lawrence will also take the role of the Director of Models and Data in NCAS, where along with his existing data role, he will take formal responsibility for both the research strategy and the underlying services needed for the academic simulation of weather and climate in the UK. He will also retain the Directorship of the STFC Centre for Environmental Data Archival.

The Director of NCAS, Professor Stephen Mobbs, said: "I am delighted that Professor Lawrence is taking on this new and expanded role for us. Increasingly the challenges we face in predicting our climate, weather and air quality depend on combining unprecedented amounts of observational data with models which exploit massively parallel computing technology. The appointment of Professor Lawrence reflects the central role which data exploitation has in our science strategy."

Professor Simon Chandler-Wilde, Head of the University of Reading's School of Mathematical and

Physical Sciences, said: "We are delighted that Proessor Lawrence is joining our leading Department of Meteorology, to strengthen our ability to develop the next generation of weather and climate models. We are particularly pleased that this is a joint initiative, cementing our already strong relationship with NCAS."


For all media enquiries contact James Barr, University of Reading Press officer, 0118 378 7115,

Notes to editors

Professor Lawrence received his doctorate from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, and spent several years in the UK, primarily at Oxford University, before returning to his home institution to a lectureship.

In 2000 he was prevailed upon to return to the UK, initially to lead the British Atmospheric Data Centre, and then the Centre for Environmental Data Archival. During the two decades of his professional career he has had a variety of interests, ranging from radar physics to computer modelling.

The University of Reading's Department of Meteorology is one of the leading international University centres for the study of the climate, weather, and earth observation, with current funding in research grants and contracts of over £40M, supporting over 200 research staff and PhD students. The Department is home to major parts of two NERC National Centres, NCAS and the National Centre for Earth Observation, and hosts, embedded in the Department, approximately 30 Met Office scientists.  

The National Centre for Atmospheric Science is the Natural Environment Research Council's research centre for atmospheric science, with major programmes in climate, weather, atmospheric chemistry, observations and atmospheric technology (

The British Atmospheric Data Centre ( and the NERC Earth Observation Data Centre ( are two of the dedicated data centres operated by STFC ( on behalf of the Natural Environment Research Council ( to ensure that the data products of NERC research are available for further  re-use. The two data centres are operated together as the Centre of Environmental Data Archival and are formally part of the National Centre for Atmospheric Science and the National Centre for Earth Observation respectively.


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