“Weather Disasters in a Changing Climate” with Stephen Belcher (MET Office, Exeter, UK)

Weather and climate extremes such as heatwaves, heavy rainfall, drought, wind storms, flooding and wildfires have huge socio-economic and environmental costs. And climate change is already driving changes in weather extremes. Since the Paris Agreement in December 2015 there is a focus on the transition to net zero emissions, in order to limit the damage from climate change. Nevertheless, we are committed to further changes on the climate system, and so there remains a need to understand the impacts of further changes to the climate and to build resilience. As a result, the focus of climate science research at centres such as the Met Office has shifted to reflect these changing drivers: moving from proving that climate change is happening, to understanding the nature of the change and helping design solutions. This presentation will survey some of the inspirational new work that is being done to rise to this enormous challenge, including new observations, new modelling for projections, and new partnerships that are needed to move to building solutions.

Stephen Belcher obtained his PhD in fluid dynamics from the University of Cambridge (UK) in 1990 and has subsequently published over 100 peer-reviewed papers on the fluid dynamics of atmospheric and oceanic turbulence. Having completed his PhD he became a research fellow at Stanford and Cambridge Universities. In 1994 he moved to the Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading (UK), where he served as Head of the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences between 2007 and 2010.  In 2010 he became the Joint Met Office Chair in Weather Systems. This role gave him a taster of working closely with the Met Office, and in 2012 he joined the Met Office as Director of the Met Office Hadley Centre (UK).Stephen led the evolution of the Met Office Hadley Centre to focus on climate science and services: motivated by the need to provide governments, industry and society with actionable advice, i.e. ‘climate services’. He was a driving force behind the initiation of the Newton Fund Climate Science for Service Partnership China (CSSP China), in which scientists from both China and the UK are now working together to develop fundamental climate science and climate services.

This webinar was recorded on June 24, 2021