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.
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.
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.
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