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Delivering a new generation of climate simulations

At the University of Leeds we have world leading expertise and a state-of-the-art capability to perform end-to-end climate research. This research has improved understanding of the fundamental physical, chemical and biological processes that drive climate and weather. We are testing and delivering a new generation of climate simulations that give a better understanding of future climate change and its impact on society.

For 20 years Leeds researchers have undertaken field measurements, performed laboratory studies and provided theoretical insights that have fundamentally improved our understanding of the Earth system. Our expeditions have collected data across the globe, from the jungles of Borneo to the Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica. Since the year 2000, we have established a systematic framework for long-term monitoring of the Amazon region, working with international partners to create a unique long term record of biodiversity, carbon and water availability for the region. Painstaking laboratory work has enabled us to understand how water clouds and ice clouds form and the intricacies of reactions that drive chemical processing in the atmosphere. We have made key theoretical insights into understanding how rainfall will be affected under future climate change.

Our research doesn’t just gather dust in academic journals – we use it to improve our climate models, allowing us to make better predictions of future temperatures, air quality, extreme weather, sea-level rise and crop yields. Working with our partners at the Met Office and National Centre for Atmospheric Science, we have helped to build a new generation climate model, the UK Earth System Model (UKESM). Leeds activity has focused on two key areas of model development:

  1. Incorporation of aerosol chemistry, giving improved prediction of cloud changes and future air quality;
  2. High-resolution forecasting, that is leading directly to improved forecasts over Africa and other tropical regions.

In summary:

  • Leeds researchers have delivered high-resolution climate forecasts for Africa and across the tropics.
  • Leeds end-to-end climate research contributes substantially to national capability in climate modelling and delivery of a world-leading model, UK Earth System Model, in June 2016.

Overview by Ken Carslaw, Professor of Atmospheric Science.

Read more about the Joint Weather and Climate Research programme.