Professor Lee Chapman PhD FRMetS FHEA

Professor Lee Chapman

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Professor of Climate Resilience
Director of Knowledge Transfer (College of Life and Environmental Sciences)

Contact details

0121 414 7435
+44 (0)121 414 5528
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School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Lee Chapman - Research in 60 seconds videoProfessor Lee Chapman’s research interests are at the interface of climatology and engineering investigating the impact of weather and climate on the built environment; an important research area given the ever-increasing concentration (and vulnerability) of the population and critical infrastructure in urban areas. This covers a range of topics and sub-disciplines including infrastructure meteorology, urban climatology and climate change adaptation.  Knowledge transfer and business engagement are at the heart of this research agenda and he continues to work extensively with industry to ensure maximum impact from ongoing research activities. 


  • BSc Geography (University of Sheffield, 1998)
  • PhD Geography (University of Birmingham, 2002)
  • PG Cert in Learning & Teaching (University of Birmingham, 2009)


Professor Lee Chapman completed his PhD entitled "A Blueprint for 21st Century Road Ice Prediction" here in Birmingham. The aim of the project was to assimilate new technologies to develop the next generation of road weather prediction models (Route Based Forecasting). The main application was to accurately forecast road surface temperatures enabling optimal salt usage by local councils. The project involved the development of GIS models which utilised new survey techniques based upon GPS measurements and digital image processing.

A university spin-out company called Entice Technology Ltd was set up using funding received from the NERC SBRI scheme (£125k) to fund further technological development, protection of intellectual property by the filing of patents and commercialisation of the work carried out for the PhD. The business was sold in 2006 to Weather Services International Ltd. Professor Chapman is still actively involved in research and business engagement with respect to winter road maintenance. He is presently the President of the Standing International Road Weather Commission (SIRWEC).

In 2010, after holding a Roberts Research Fellowship for 5 years, Lee Chapman was promoted to a Senior Lectureship in Applied Meteorology and Climatology and in 2013 became Reader in Climate Resilience.  He was awarded the 2013 RGS Cuthbert Peek award for advancing knowledge of urban climatology through GIS and remote sensing, the 2014 IBM Innovation Award for ‘making meterological measurements that matter’ presented by the RMetS. He became Professor of Climate Resilience in 2016.


Professor Lee Chapman is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and has a significant teaching profile which spans several modules and programmes of study in the following areas:

  • Tutorials, IT Skills and fieldwork
  • Geomatics for geographers
  • Foundation maths
  • Atmospheric observations
  • Dissertation support

The teaching methods and assessment strategies used on these modules were informed by studying for a PGCert in Learning and Teaching which Professor Chapman completed in 2009. He was nominated for a prize in Level 1 of the course and won a prize for Level 2 where he had his teaching project published:

Chapman, L. (2010) Dealing with maths anxiety: How do you teach mathematics in a geography department? Journal of Geography in Higher Education 34:205-213.

Postgraduate supervision

Professor Chapman currently supervises ten postgraduate students:

  • Jennifer Kirby: High resolution imagery for trackside leaf-fall monitoring (EPSRC iCASE with Railway Safety & Standards Board)
  • Helen Roberts: Using social media to investigate urban green space function (funded by EPSRC)
  • Simon Hodgkinson: Railway interdependencies (funded by EPSRC)
  • Paul Fisher: High resolution climate and health relationships (funded by Public Health England)
  • Juliana Antunes De Azevedo: Impact of urban heat on current and future energy demand (funded by CNPq Brazil)
  • Tatiana Prieto-Lopez: Impact of urban heat islands on the life expectancy of distribution transformers (partly funded by E-ON)
  • Richard Bassett: Quantifying the influence of wind advection on urban heat islands for an improvement of a climate change adaption tool (funded by NERC with Birmingham City Council as a CASE partner) 
  • Daniel Murrant: Quantifying the impact of future water energy nexus constraints on the UK non-nuclear thermoelectric power station fleet both in terms of cost and technology (funded by the Midlands Energy Consortium with Energy Technologies Institute as a CASE partner)
  • Duy Phan Nhut: Planning resilient transport systems in relation to flooding and other hazards (funded by Vietnamese International Education Development)
  • Thomas Bennett: Road temperature modelling and dynamic gritter routing. (based at Aston University with supervisors Dan Cornford and Lucy Bastin, funded by EPSRC with Amey as CASE partner) 

Potential students should contact Professor Chapman directly.


Research groups

Current Projects:

Altasense: Demonstrating the potential of the Internet of Things (IoT) for Iow cost infrastructure monitoring (PI: Funded by EPSRC Impact Acceleration).

IoT literally means ‘things’ (e.g. sensors and other smart devices) which are connected to the internet. This may seem insignificant, but ‘things’ represent a new, and increasingly, critical infrastructure requiring a dedicated technological ecosystem. Indeed, since 2008, the number of ‘things’ has outnumbered users online.  A range of industry co-created projects are presently underway to develop low cost condition monitoring solutions based on the IoT with the aim of mitigating against day to day meteorological hazards on infrastructure networks.  Altasense provides the commercial vehicle to operationalise these solutions.

Wintersense: Demonstrating the Potential of the Internet of Things in Winter Road Maintenance (PI: Funded by EPSRC: £208k)

The wintersense project was co-created with Amey (who manage the Private Finance Initiative contract for Birmingham City Council) and will see a deployment of a new generation of low cost, internet enabled, road surface temperature sensors embedded within an IoT ecosystem. For the first time, this approach will provide a high resolution monitoring and verification solution for route based forecasts commonly used by decision makers to determine where and when to salt the roads in winter.  It is hoped that this project will further reinforce user-confidence in such forecasts, in turn enabling increasingly cost effective ‘smart gritting’ operations in the sector.

Autumnsense: Solving the Adhesion Riddle (PI: Funded by EPSRC and the Railway Safety and Standards Board: £104k)

This project is conducting a feasibility study into how high resolution sensor networks and hemispherical imagery could potentially be used to reduce the perennial problem of leaves on the line.  Poor traction and braking from leaf fall in the autumn currently cause severe problems to the railway system. However, these issues are not confined to autumn alone as the condensation of water droplets on rail heads during warmer months, as well as other contaminants can also alter the interface between the wheel and the rail and cause poor braking.  The project will explore the potential of an IoT based methodology to measure moisture on our railways at an unprecedented scale.  A studentship is also looking at innovative means to monitor and quantify leaf fall during Autumn for inclusion in models currently run by project partners, the Met Office.

Summersense: Dynamic heat risk management to reduce the costs of propagating hot weather delays on the railway network. (PI: Funded by NERC: £125k)

Summersense investigates the feasibility of implementing dynamic heat risk management on the railway network to reduce the costs of propagating hot weather delays   In order to manage the heat risk, blanket speed restrictions are often imposed above pre-defined temperature thresholds to ensure safety, but causing delays for passengers. This project focuses on determining the feasibility of implementing dynamic thresholds for blanket speed restrictions which increment over the course of the summer season. The rationale for this is that failures are 'harvested' during hot spells and hence the first heatwave of the year highlights network vulnerability, with subsequent heatwaves (unless significantly hotter) being less problematic.

HiTemp (PI: Funded by NERC Networks of Sensors: £610k)

Average surface temperatures from remote sensing for Birmingham under four Pasquill-Gifford stability classes.  Source: Tomlinson et al, 2011.Birmingham is the UK's second most populous city, with a population in excess of 1 million people and a well defined Urban Heat Island (UHI). The UHI is a direct consequence of anthropogenic influences on our local climate. Many studies have been devoted to the study of UHI extent and magnitude, as well as the impacts increased urban temperatures have on meteorology, climatology, human health and society. Although the UHI phenomenon is well documented and studies have increased our understanding, the basic measurement of temperatures across urban areas remains very limited.  To help spatially characterise the UHI, the HiTemp project has provided a nested array of sensors including over 30 weather stations plus an additional 100 air temperature sites located on a citywide wi-fi network.  The end result is the Birmingham Urban Climate Laboratory and is thought to be the densest Urban Meteorological Network in the world.

Biotelemetry/Bio-aerial-platforms for the Urban Boundary Layer (Co-I: Funded by NERC: £661k)

Whilst Urban Meteorological Networks such as the Birmingham Urban Climate Laboratory are starting to provide high resolution meteorological surface datasets in our cities, numerical weather prediction is still hampered by a paucity of meteorological data in the urban boundary layer (UBL), especially in the region above, but close to, building height. This region is precisely where local energy balances and drag combine with prevailing synoptic patterns to transmit fluid dynamical information up and down spatial scales, with implications for (i) urban weather prediction, (ii) event forecasting (e.g. heatwaves, climatic conditions during sporting events, releases of hazardous substances), and (iii) sustainable urban planning for high density liveable cities. However, capturing meteorological data in urban areas above the mean roof height is problematic using conventional techniques. This project will use biotelemetry/bio-aerial-platforms (birds!) as a novel and practicable solution to the data paucity above urban rooftops in the UBL, and to circumvent the regulatory issues related to use of unmanned aerial systems. A suite of low-cost Avian-Meteorology-Instrument Packages for ensemble deployment in Birmingham will be produced to obtain unrivalled data about the spatial nature of the urban boundary layer.



Other Recent Projects:

Internet Of Things Convergence (Co-I, Funded by Technology Strategy Board: £140k)

In 2013, we were funded to partcipate in two 12 month demonstrator grants under the IoT call.  The first project, Smart Streets, was worth £70k and explored the utility of such devices to be used in real world applications such as winter road maintenance and gully cleaning (partners include: Amey, Carillion, Balfour Beatty, InTouch). The second project, DISTANCE (Demonstrating the Internet of School Things – A National Collaborative Experience), also worth £70k, explored the ability for schools to measure and share data by creating an information hub in the cloud using an open-source and infinitely scalable application platform for themes such as transport, energy, weather and health. (Partners include: Intel, Cosm ,the OU, the geography collective and ScienceScope).

FUTURENET (Co-I: Funded by EPSRC: £1.4m)

FUTURENET assessed the future resilience of the UK transport network by taking into account likely technology and infrastructure changes, as well as changes in climate and extreme weather events. FUTURENET recognised that climate change has a significant impact on transport which can be addressed as an engineering dimension derived from the interaction between climate design, weather events and the physical network, and a socio-economic dimension derived from the interaction between weather and climate and the patterns of transport demand. FUTURENET integrated both in assessing the future resilience of the UK transport system. In doing so, it “joins up” traditionally separated agendas and addresses the inter-sectoral consistency of planning assumptions. 

Sustainable Urban Meteorological Networks (SUMNs): Managing the legacy of the Birmingham Urban Climate Laboratory (PI, Funded by NERC: £13k)

This short scoping project investigated ways in which the legacy of the Birmingham Urban Climate Laboratory (HiTemp) could be managed.  The study identified prospective end-users and applications (businesses, industrial, service sector, scientific, public, educational) of the HiTemp project in Birmingham.  The information was used to characterise a sustainable Urban Meteorological Network in terms of size (i.e. number of sites), data quality / assurance and associated ongoing costs. 

Knowledge Transfer Partnership: E-ON Central Networks (PI: Funded by Technology Strategy Board & NERC: £120k)

A Knowledge Transfer Partnership between the University of Birmingham and E-ON, Central Networks evaluated the impact of urban heat islands and climate change on the aging rate of transformers in Birmingham. There are currently 2000 transformers in the Birmingham area, many of which are now over 40 years old; hence replacement is now becoming an important issue. For this to be done successfully, the life cycles of existing transformers requires quantification taking into account various scenarios relating to climate change and urban heat island effects. This project sinvestigated the relationship between weather conditions and asset temperatures, using these relationships to make projections for various climate scenarios so that asset life cycles could be approximated.

Cross Disciplinary Feasibility Account (Co-I: Funded by EPSRC: £200k)

This project investigated improving local resilience through innovation.  A series of stakeholder workshops and multi-disciplinary viewpoint papers were produced to ascertain the potential of 'bottom-up' approaches in improving our local infrastructure.

Other activities

  • President of the Standing International Road Weather Commission
  • Head of Climate and Atmospheric Research Sub-Group
  • Member of editorial board for RMetS journal Meteorological Applications
  • Associate editor of Transport Behaviour and Society
  • Member of the NERC Peer Review College


Chapman, L., Muller, C.L., Young, D.T., Warren, E.L., Grimmond, C.S.B, Cai, X-M., Ferranti, E.J.S. (2015) The Birmingham Urban Climate Laboratory: An open meteorological testbed and challenges of the smart city. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 96:1545-1560

Murrant, D., Quinn, A.D., Chapman, L. (2015) The Water-Energy Nexus: Future water resource availability and its implications on UK thermal power generation. Water and Environment 29:307-319

Chapman, L. (2015) Weather and Climate Impacts on Road Transport. Infrastructure Asset Management (Special Edition) 2:58-68

Muller, C.L., Chapman, L., Johnston, S., Kidd, C., Illingworth, S., Foody, G., Overeem, A., Leigh, R.R. (2015) Crowdsourcing for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences: Current Status and Future Potential. International Journal of Climatology 35:3185–3203

Jaroszweski, D., Hooper, E., Baker, C.J., Chapman, L., Quinn, A.D. (2014) The impacts of the 28th June 2012 storms on UK transport. Meteorological Applications 22:470-476

Marchetti, M., Chapman, L., Khalifa, A. & Buès, M. (2014) New role of thermal mapping in winter maintenance with principal components analysis. Advances in Meteorology doi:10.1155/2014/254795

Jaroszweski, D., Hooper, E. & Chapman, L.(2014)The impact of climate change on urban transport resilience in a changing world. Progress in Physical Geography 38:448-463

Illingworth, S., Muller, C.L, Graves, R. & Chapman, L. (2014) UK Citizen Rainfall Network: a pilot study. Weather 69:203-207

Hooper, E., Chapman, L.& Quinn, A.D. (2014) The impact of precipitation on speed-flow relationships on a UK transport corridor. Theoretical and Applied Climatology 117:303-316

Young, D.T., Chapman, L., Muller, C.L., Grimmond, C.S.B., Cai, X. (2014) Evaluating the performance of a ‘low-cost’ wireless temperature sensor.  Journal of Atmospheric & Oceanic Technology 31:938-944

Hooper, E., Chapman, L.& Quinn, A.D. (2014) Investigating the impacts of precipitation on vehicle speeds on UK motorways. Meteorological Applications 21:194–201

Anifowose, B., Lawler, D., van der Horst, D. and Chapman, L. (2014), Evaluating interdiction of oil pipelines at river crossings using Environmental Impact Assessments. Area 46:4–17. 

Jaroszweski, D., Chapman, L. & Petts, J. (2013) Climate change and road freight safety: a multidisciplinary exploration.  Climatic Change 120:785-799

Muller, C.L., Chapman, L., Young, D.T., Grimmond, C.S.B., Cai, X. (2013) Towards a standardised metadata protocol for urban meteorological networks. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 94:1161–1185

Muller, C.L., Chapman, L., Young, D.T., Grimmond, C.S.B., Cai, X. (2013) Sensors & The City: A Review of Urban Meteorological Sensor Networks. International Journal of Climatology 33:1585-1600

Kidd, C. & Chapman, L. (2013) Urban climate station site selection through combined digital surface model and sun angle calculations. Meteorological Applications 20:379-384

Chapman, L., Azevedo, J.A. & Prieto-Lopez, T. (2013) Urban heat and critical infrastructure networks: a viewpoint. Urban Climate 3:7-12

Hammond, D., Chapman, L., Thornes, J.E. (2012) Improving estimates of surface roughness length using LIDAR data. Meteorological Applications 19:420–426

Tomlinson, C.J., Prieto-Lopez, T., Bassett, R., Chapman, L., Cai, X., Thornes, J.E., Baker, C.J., (2013) Showcasing urban heat island work in Birmingham – measuring, monitoring, modeling and more. Weather 68:44-49

Ryley, T.R. & Chapman, L. (2012) Transport and Climate Change. Emerald, UK. 380pp 

Rogers, C.D.F., Bouch, C., Williams, S., Barber, A.R.G., Baker, C.J., Bryson, J.R., Chapman, D.N., Chapman, L., Coaffee, J. Jefferson, I. & Quinn A.D. (2012) Resistance and Resilience – Paradigms for Critical Local Infrastructure. Proceedings of the ICE: Municipal Engineer 165:73-83

Tomlinson, C.J., Chapman, L., Thornes, J.E., Baker, C.J., Prieto-Lopez, T. (2012) Comparing night time satellite land surface temperature from MODIS and ground measured air temperature across a conurbation. Remote Sensing Letters 3:657-666

Kidd, C. & Chapman, L. (2012) Derivation of sky view factors from LIDAR data. International Journal of Remote Sensing 33:3640-3652

Anifowose, B., van der Horst, D, Lawler, D., & Chapman, L.  (2012) Attacks on oil transport pipelines in Nigeria: a quantitative exploration and possible explanation of observed patterns.  Applied Geography 32:636-651

Tomlinson, C.J., Chapman, L., Thornes, J.E. & Baker, C.J. (2012) Derivation of Birmingham’s summer surface urban heat island from MODIS satellite images. International Journal of Climatology 32:214-224

Chapman, L., Collier, C.G., Power, C.H. & Burt. P. (2011) Special Issue: Sensing the weather. Meteorological Applications 18:251-406

Tomlinson, C.J., Chapman, L., Thornes, J.E. & Baker, C.J. (2011) Including the urban heat island in spatial heat health risk assessment strategies: a case study for Birmingham, UK. International Journal of Health Geographies10:42

Tomlinson, C.J., Chapman, L., Thornes, J.E. & Baker, C.J. (2011) Remote sensing land surface temperature for meteorology and climatology: a review. Meteorological Applications 18:296-306

Hammond, D., Chapman, L., Thornes, J.E. (2011) Parameterising road construction in route-based road weather models: Can ground penetrating radar provide any answers? Measurement Science and Technology 22:5

Andersson, A.K. & Chapman, L. (2011) The use of a temporal analogue to predict future traffic accidents and winter road conditions in Sweden. Meteorological Applications 18:125-136

Chapman, L. & Thornes, J.E. (2011) What resolution do we need for a route-based road weather decision support system? Theoretical & Applied Climatology 104:551-559

Fox, T. & Chapman, L. (2011) Engineering Geo-engineering. Meteorological Applications 18:1-8

Andersson, A.K. & Chapman, L. (2011) The impact of climate change on winter road maintenance and traffic accidents in West Midlands, UK. Accident Analysis and Prevention 43:284-289

Anifowose, B., Chapman, L., Lawler, D., & van der Horst, D (2011) Pipeline interdiction and bridging in Nigeria: is a modification to the spatial connectivity matrix model required? Journal of Transport Geography.19:179-184

Ghelli, A., Chapman, L. & Keeling, S. (2010) Special Issue: Communicating weather information and impacts.Meteorological Applications 17:125-250

Thornes, J.E., Bloss, W., Buzar, S, Cai, X., Chapman, L., Clark, J., Dessai, S. Du, S., van der Horst, D., Kendall, M., Kidd, C. & Randalls, S. (2010) Communicating the value of atmospheric services. Meteorological Applications 17:243-250

Hammond, D., Chapman, L., Thornes, J.E. & White, S.P. (2010) Verification of route-based winter road maintenance weather forecasts. Theoretical and Applied Climatology 100:371-384

Baker, C.J., Chapman, L. Quinn, A.D., & Dobney, K. (2010) Climate change and the rail industry. Proc. IMechE, Part C: Journal of Mechanical Engineering Science 224:519-528

Jaroszweski, D., Chapman, L. & Petts, J. (2010) Assessing the potential impact of climate change on transportation: The need for an interdisciplinary approach. Journal of Transport Geography 18:331-335

Dobney, K., Baker, C.J., Chapman, L. & Quinn, A.D. (2010) The future cost to the UK's railway network of heat related delays and buckles caused by the predicted increase in high summer temperatures due to climate change. Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part F, Journal of Rail and Rapid Transit 224:25-34.

Dobney, K., Baker, C.J., Quinn, A.D. & Chapman, L. (2009) Quantifying the effects of increased summer temperatures due to climate change on buckling and rail related delays in south-east UK. Meteorological Applications 16:245-251

Thornes, J.E. & Chapman, L. (2008) XRWIS: A new paradigm for road and rail severe weather prediction in the United Kingdom. Geography Compass 2:1012-1026

Chapman, L., Thornes, J.E., Huang, Y, Sanderson, V.L., Cai, X., & White, S.P (2008) Modelling of rail surface temperatures. Theoretical and Applied Meteorology 92:121-131

Chapman, L. (2008) An introduction to ‘upside-down’ remote sensing. Progress in Physical Geography 32:529-542

Chapman, L., Thornes, J.E., Muller, J.P. & McMuldroch, S. (2007) Potential applications of thermal fisheye imagery in urban environments Geoscience and Remote Sensing Letters 4(1): 56-59

Hammond, D., Chapman, L., Baker, A., Thornes, J.E. & Sandford, A. (2007) Fluorescence of road salt additives: potential applications for residual salt monitoring. Measurement Science and Technology 18:239-244

Chapman, L (2007) Potential Applications of near-infrared hemispherical imagery in forest environments. Agricultural & Forest Meteorology 143:151-156

Chapman, L. (2007) Climate Change and Transport: A Review. Journal of Transport Geography 15:354-367

Handa, H., Chapman L. & Yao X. (2006) Robust route optimisation for gritting/salting trucks: A CERCIA experience. Computational Intelligence Magazine. 1(1):6-9

Handa, H., Lin, D., Chapman L. & Yao X. (2006) Robust salting route optimisation using evolutionary algorithms. 2006 IEEE Congress on Evolutionary Computation, IEEE CEC 2006. 1:10455-10462

Chapman, L. & Thornes, J.E. (2006) A geomatics based road surface temperature prediction model. Science of the Total Environment 360:68-80

Chapman, L., Thornes, J.E. & White, S.P (2006) Thermal imaging of railways to identify track sections prone to buckling. Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part F, Journal of Rail and Rapid Transit 220:317-327

Thornes, J.E., Cavan, G. & Chapman, L. (2005) XRWIS: The use of geomatics to predict winter road surface temperatures in Poland. Meteorological Applications 12:83-90

Handa, H., Chapman L. & Yao X. (2005) Dynamic salting route optimisation using evolutionary computation. 2005 IEEE Congress on Evolutionary Computation, IEEE CEC 2005.1:158-165

Chapman, L. & Thornes, J.E. (2005) The influence of traffic on road surface temperatures: Implications for thermal mapping studies. Meteorological Applications 12:371-380

Chapman, L. & Thornes, J.E. (2004) Real time sky-view factor calculation and approximation. Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology 21: 730-741

Chapman, L. & Thornes, J.E. (2003) The use of geographical information systems in climatology and meteorology. Progress in Physical Geography 27: 313-330

Bradley, A.V., Thornes, J.E., Chapman, L., Unwin, D. & Roy, M. (2002) Modelling spatial and temporal road thermal climatology in rural and urban areas using a GIS. Climate Research 22:41-55

Chapman, L., Thornes, J.E. & Bradley, A.V. (2002) Sky-view factor approximation from GPS receivers. International Journal of Climatology 22: 615-621

Chapman, L., Thornes, J.E. & Bradley, A.V. (2001) Rapid determination of canyon geometry parameters for use in surface radiation budgets. Theoretical and Applied Climatology 69: 81-89

Chapman, L., Thornes, J.E. & Bradley, A.V. (2001) Modelling of road surface temperatures from a geographical parameter database. Part 1: Statistical. Meteorological Applications 8: 409-419

Chapman, L., Thornes, J.E. & Bradley, A.V. (2001) Modelling of road surface temperatures from a geographical parameter database. Part 2: Numerical. Meteorological Applications 8: 421-436

Bradley, A.V, Thornes, J.E. & Chapman, L. (2001) Variation and prediction of urban canyon geometry from sky-view factor transects. Atmospheric Science Letters 2: 155-165

Chapman, L. (2000) Assessing topographic exposure. Meteorological Applications 7:335-340.

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