With the wider world increasingly waking up to the threats posed by climate change, our climate researchers are leading the way in tackling the key questions being raised.
Whether examining the impact of a two- or three-degree-warmer world or exploring the likelihood of a worsening of the UK’s wintertime flooding, our academics are shaping policy and strengthening society’s climate resilience.
The subject’s global importance is reflected in the Division’s research, with UK-based projects such as assessing the impact of climate change on the flood risk to London sitting alongside internationally-focused work centred on the Sahara, South West Asia and the Arctic.
Much of our research sits at the interface between weather and climate and we work alongside the Weather and Earth Observation & Space Research Divisions to address this growing area. We also collaborate closely with influential groups including the Met Office and the National Centre for Atmospheric Science.
For specific enquiries, please contact:
Research Division Lead
Telephone: +44 (0)118 378 8957
Warming, warning stripes
Striking climate graphics showing how average temperatures have risen across the globe from the pre-industrial era to today made by Professor Ed Hawkins as part of his climatelabbook project, have been shared widely across the world.
The graphic, first produced in 2017, uses a coloured stripe to represent the global average temperature for each year since 1850, with blue for cooler temperatures and red for hotter years. The thick band of deep red stripes that appear towards the right end of the graphic are a stark visual representation of how human action has heated the climate over time.
In June 2019 people worldwide generated and shared graphics tailored to their own state or country from showyourstripes.info hosted by Reading’s Institute for Environmental Analytics, as part of an international campaign. By 24 June almost 1 million stripes graphics had been downloaded from over 180 countries and over 100 TV meteorologists had agreed to use the graphics on their live broadcasts. Find out more
Countdown on climate change
Professor Nigel Arnell has contributed to a major 2018 report involving 27 global institutions: The Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change. The report shows that rising temperatures across the globe as a result of climate change are already exposing people to an unacceptably high health risk, with the elderly in Europe and the East Mediterranean regions being particularly vulnerable.
Findings revealed that 157 million more vulnerable people were subjected to a heatwave in 2017 compared with in 2000, and 18 million more than in 2016. Furthermore 153 billion hours of work were lost in 2017 due to extreme heat.
Heat also greatly exacerbates urban air pollution, with 97% of cities in low- and middle- income countries not meeting WHO air quality guidelines. Read more
Tracking the rising tide
The world’s sea level has been rising since the mid-19th century, with current estimates at a 3cm rise per decade. Professor Jonathan Gregory’s research has provided evidence that human activity has been the chief factor driving this process, for which he was awarded the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award Climate Change prize in 2019.
Professor Gregory, who is lead author of chapters dealing with sea-level rise and ocean observation for three Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s reports, has also co-authored research providing the first ever reconstruction of ocean temperature rise from 1871 to 2017.
Published in the journal PNAS, the University of Oxford-led research team calculated global warming of the oceans at 436 x 10²¹ Joules. This supports evidence that the oceans are absorbing most of the excess energy in the climate system arising from greenhouse gases emitted by human activities. Find out more
news and events
Climate scientist Ed Hawkins has made a big difference to the understanding of a vital contemporary issue: the upward spiralling of global temperatures.