Meteorology and Climate

Californian wildfires

We use our international reputation in pure and applied atmospheric research to better understand, and provide solutions to, the pressing problems of extreme weather and climate change which impact on every living organism on our planet.

We are one of the leading institutions in the UK specialising in weather and climate research, with a track record spanning over 60 years.  As a member of the UK Met Office Academic Partnership, we work closely with Met Office colleagues (based both in Exeter and here at the University) to deliver research that matters across a broad range of areas.  Our research has a truly global reach and we collaborate with organisations such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the World Meteorological Organisation to exert our influence at this scale.  We firmly believe that the climate crisis can not be resolved by meteorologists alone and this is why we place interdisciplinarity at the heart of what we do, bringing in colleagues from across the University, and beyond, to tackle the increasingly wicked problems faced by society as a consequence of our ever-changing weather and climate. 

Research areas

Urban Climatology

The study of urban areas is a key area of research across much of the school and forms a significant component of our atmospheric research. We are home to the Birmingham Urban Observatory, a unique network of over 100 air temperature sensors and 25 weather stations across the city. The observatory is the centrepiece of urban climatological research in the school and is used to quantify the impact of the urban heat island effect in Birmingham and beyond, as well as providing a testbed for advancing other innovative low-cost sensing, numerical modelling and data science approaches.

Infrastructure meteorology 

Applied weather forecasting and climate prediction for industry is a major strength of the group. A portfolio of projects exist between the group and colleagues in civil engineering which look at the impact of weather and climate on infrastructure, with the short term aim of improving hazard to decision making whilst also making our hard infrastructure more resilient to the future effects of climate change.  Our group continues to influence UK policy in this area as key authors for the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment.

Extreme events

Other fundamental and applied research investigates meteorological and climatological extreme events from extreme precipitation to hazardous extra-tropical cyclones affecting the UK. We have a vast portfolio of ongoing work including e.g., the analysis of storm tracks and associated impacts for the insurance industry, the impact of heat waves in urban areas for use by city planners and the better understanding of large-scale circulations governing climate phenomena to improve monsoon forecasting.

Modelling Past and future climate change

Collaborative research in this area with colleagues across the school includes numerical modelling of past global climates, analysis of proxy data, statistical downscaling (in order to derive regional climate change from large-scale changes), as well as regional climate modelling. Combining these methods leads to innovative, statistically rigorous consistency tests between climate simulations and proxy data, which are needed for reducing uncertainties in climate reconstructions as well as for testing climate models that are used for predicting future climate change. Geoengineering solutions, hydroclimatology and teleconnections across Europe and North America are also targets for investigation.

Biosphere-climate interactions

Better understanding environmental complexity and projecting how the terrestrial biosphere will respond to a changing environment is the focus of this group. Particular foci are the response of forests to rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations, the effect of climate change on forest mortality, and future changes in crop yields. A variety of methods are employed, from large experimental manipulation of real forests, to statistical analysis of large observational datasets, and global scale modelling of the terrestrial biosphere. The work of this group is closely linked to the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research.

Climate and air pollution interactions 

In addition to GHGs, many short-lived components in the atmosphere also contribute significantly to the Earth system energy imbalance, and hence play a critical role in climate change. These short-lived climate forcers are also air pollutants, such as aerosols and surface ozone, with a major source from human activities. We collaborate nationally and internationally with renowned institutes to advance our understanding of the interactions between climate change and air pollution to advice “win-win” sustanable policymaking, using a combination of numerical modelling, satellite and in-situ observations and data-science approaches

Research funding

The interdisciplinary nature of our research means we successfully draw on funding from a wide range of sources.  These include NERC, EPSRC and Horizon Europe but, given the applied nature of our research, our work is also supported directly by Industry as well as Innovate UK.

Postgraduate opportunities

MSc Applied Meteorology and Climatology

This programme celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2024 and provides comprehensive training in understanding, modelling and prediction of atmospheric processes; as well as the collection, management, supply and application of atmospheric data for the needs of a variety of public and private sectors. The course also demonstrates how these create opportunities or pose problems for the successful operation of natural and human systems.  Importantly, the course is accredited by the Royal Meteorological Society to provide comprehensive training for Chartered Meteorologists (CMet).

PhD Funding Sources

We are part of the CENTA DTP which is the first port of call for funding, but other opportunities are often available via our academic partnership with the Met Office or CASE funding with other industrial partners.