Partnership in Focus: Met Office
The University of Exeter works closely with the Met Office to tackle key challenges in weather and climate prediction as part of an in-depth Met Office Academic Partnership. Expertise for the partnership include:
- Climate Impacts
- Earth system modelling and processes
- Mathematical formulation of Numerical Weather and Climate Prediction
- Statistical modelling of weather and climate processes
Over 15 Joint, Shared and Honorary positions underpin the partnership. These include two Joint Chairs (employed by the University and part-funded by the Met Office), five shared appointments at Professorial level (employed by the University and the Met Office), and nine shared appointments with Exeter’s Global Systems Institute (GSI).
The GSI researchers, who were appointed in 2019, work one day a week at the University of Exeter alongside their existing roles at the Met Office. They bring expertise on a variety of subjects, ranging from government policy and climate computer models to the impacts of climate change on human migration.
The University of Exeter and the Met Office have collaborated on more than 200 climate and weather science projects since they began working together in 2003. The collaboration combines the University of Exeter’s multidisciplinary scientific expertise (spanning mathematics, data, geography, economy, psychology) with the Met Office’s focused mission of driving policy-relevant climate research.
Climate research highlights in collaboration with the Met Office include:
The HELIX project led by Professor Richard Betts, saw a consortium of 16 partner organisations, including the Met Office, assess the future impact of global warming at different levels using simulation modelling. Papers published from the consortium has provided input to the IPCC (Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change) report on the impacts of climate change at 1.5 degrees and above, which has fed into the UN negotiations process and is widely credited as kick-starting recent public concern on climate change.
The University of Exeter also leads the scientific analysis for the Third UK Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA3), which will go to parliament in January 2022 and inform government policy in response to climate change risks.
The Climate Science for Service Partnership (CSSP), a government-funded collaboration led by the Met Office between the UK and developing countries to develop their scientific capability, improve their adaptation to climate change and inform them to make good policy decisions.
The University of Exeter and the Met Office have had a strong presence together for many years at the annual Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), presenting Met Office and University of Exeter research to governments, policy makers and scientists on a global level.
Numerical modelling and data science
The University of Exeter applies expertise in numerical modelling to predict climate forecasting on a number of collaborative Met Office projects.
Professor John Thuburn and his research students at the University of Exeter developed the ENDGame atmospheric dynamical core, detailed computer model that can solve equations of dynamics efficiently to inform weather and climate predictions. The new model has been used operationally since July 2014 and has enabled the Met Office to refine the resolution of global weather forecasts from 25km to 10km and resulted in better forecast accuracy.
Led by Professor Alberto Arribas, the Met Office Informatics Lab brings together scientists, technologists and designers from the Met Office, University of Exeter and the wider region to build prototype solutions to environmental challenges using new technologies. The Informatics Lab explore the limits and utilisation of data science techniques, such as machine learning and scalable data platforms.
The Informatics Lab, with support from Microsoft and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), have recently curated a set of Met Office data and tools to help look for relationships between COVID-19 and environmental factors. This has been made freely available by Microsoft AI for Earth.
The Informatics Lab team, led by Prof Alberto Arribas, a joint University of Exeter/Met Office appointment, created Pangeo, a scalable software and infrastructure which can be deployed in Cloud and High-Performance Computing environments to enable big data geoscience research. Pangeo responds to the challenge of ever-growing datasets by only assessing the specific data points needed for any given calculation.
Pangeo has nurtured a thriving international community of funders and collaborators, all working collaboratively to develop the tool. The Met Office and the University of Exeter continue to collaborate on the development and application of the tool through the Joint Centre of Excellence in Environmental Intelligence.
Pangeo won first runner-up for Innovative Use of Cloud Technologies at Real IT awards in 2019.
Joint Centre for Excellence in Environmental Intelligence
The new Joint Centre for Excellence in Environmental Intelligence launched in July 2020 marks an exciting new chapter in our partnership with the Met Office. Co-directed by Professor Gavin Shaddick (University of Exeter) and Dr Kristine Dale (Met Office), the Joint Centre will bring together experts in environment and climate science and data science and AI to focus on utilising the power of data to transform our understanding of a changing environment and find solutions to the challenges that this presents.
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