New partnership boosts weather and climate collaboration

The University of Oxford will today be joining the Met Office Academic Partnership, bringing together a wealth of expertise in weather and climate research.

Oxford will join the Universities of Exeter, Leeds and Reading in a partnership with the Met Office designed to focus UK academic research to tackle some of the key challenges in weather and climate science and prediction.

The partners will all benefit from each others' data, resources and expertise, coming together to address some of the biggest issues facing society today. Oxford is looking to get involved in a number of ambitious partnership-wide projects, including an investigation into whether the recent spate of cold, wet summers and cool winters are a manifestation of human-induced climate change.

The causes and effects of climate change are so complex that they extend far beyond any single discipline. A wide range of Oxford researchers will bring their expertise to the partnership, from mathematicians, physicists and earth scientists to economists, ecologists and lawyers.

The Met Office is jointly funding the Chair of the partnership, Professor Peter Read. Professor Read is a climate scientist in Oxford University's Department of Physics, whose own career began at the Met Office. He will lead joint research programmes and related activities within Oxford and across the Partnership. He said: 'We hope to contribute to a number of new partnership-wide initiatives, such as those involving both fieldwork and modelling studies of convection and aerosol-cloud interactions (that are thought to be a key source of uncertainty in predicting future climate change), and joint activities aimed at improving and extending the range of climate services and risk assessments that the Met Office can provide.'

Professor Andrew Hamilton, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University, said: 'It is very pleasing that we are able to build on our existing links with the Met Office to forge an even stronger collaboration in this vital area of research that is addressing problems of global importance.'

Professor Alex Halliday, Head of Oxford University's Mathematical, Physical & Life Sciences Division, said: 'Oxford brings a wealth of expertise across a very broad range of research, from the abstract theory of stochastic differential equations, through the modelling and measurement of volcanic aerosols and clouds through to the economic, ecological and legal implications of human-induced climate change.'

Professor Sir John Ball of Oxford University's Mathematical Institute said: 'I am delighted that mathematicians will join other scientists from Oxford as part of the Met Office Academic Partnership. Mathematical models of weather, oceans and climate present outstanding theoretical and computational challenges that cannot be effectively addressed without this kind of collaborative effort.'

Professor Tim Palmer of Oxford University's Department of Physics said: 'As the effects of anthropogenic climate change start to grip, it is becoming even more vital for society that extremes of weather and changes in regional climate are forecast accurately and reliably. This presents many challenges, not least the quantification of uncertainty in future predictions. The Met Office academic partnership with the University of Oxford will help overcome many of these challenges by strengthening the science underpinning weather and climate prediction.'