Frontiers of climate change research

What does the future hold for climate change research? The final panel session of the conference drew together experts to discuss the next steps beyond AR5.

This session took place between 12.45 - 14.00 on Friday 16 May.

Contributors:

Professor Dame Julia Slingo (session chair)

Chief Scientist, Met Office

Climate change is taking the Earth into uncharted territory, in which natural variations compounded by global warming may give unprecedented extremes.

Understanding the science behind these changes is vital, and can help us to plan for a safe and sustainable future. However this is immensely challenging and the scale of the enterprise needs to match the scale of the challenge which climate change presents us with.  

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Professor Stephen Belcher

Head of the Met Office Hadley Centre

As Head of the Met Office Hadley Centre, I lead the Climate Science directorate, providing scientific direction to its 6 areas; Earth System Science; Climate impacts; Climate Monitoring; Cryosphere and Oceans; Seasonal to decadal and Understanding Climate. Together these areas provide the science and model developments key to understanding climate variability and projecting future change and its impacts.

I also manage the delivery of climate science research under the Met Office Hadley Centre Climate Programme, funded by DECC and Defra.

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Professor Sir Andy Haines

Professor of Public Health and Primary Care, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Honorary Consultant Public Health England

I was a Review Editor for Chapter 11 (Health) of the IPCC AR5, a Principal Lead Author for the Human Population Health chapter in the AR2, and Lead Author for the Health chapter in AR3.

In my opinion future research challenges in climate change and health include: better understanding of the impact of ‘high end’ climate change scenarios on health; evaluation of the effectiveness of adaptation strategies in reducing health effects; improved estimates of health; co-benefits of policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and the economic implications of taking these into account.

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Professor Sam Fankhauser

Co-Director of the Grantham Research Institute, London School of Economics

I am Co-Director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics. I am also a member of the UK Committee on Climate Change, an independent body that advises the government on carbon targets, and the CCC’s Adaptation Sub-Committee.  

I have served as an IPCC Lead Author on the 1995 and 2001 assessment reports and as a Contributing Author in 2007 and 2014. I studied economics at the University of Bern, the London School of Economics and University College London.

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Professor Pierre Friedlingstein

Chair, Mathematical Modelling of Climate Systems, University of Exeter

I hold a chair in mathematical modelling of climate change at the University of Exeter. I have been actively involved in IPCC reports since 1994. I am a lead author for the AR5 Synthesis Report, and was Lead Author for AR5 Working Group I Chapter 12.

My research interests are in the field of global carbon cycle and global biogeochemical cycles, with a particular interest in the interactions between the climate system and the terrestrial ecosystems.

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Professor Tim Lenton

Chair in Climate Change/Earth Systems Science, University of Exeter

I am a professor of climate change and Earth system science at the University of Exeter. I was a contributing author to the 2001 IPCC Third Assessment Report.

I subsequently became concerned that the IPCC process under-represents the risks from high-impact low-probability climate change events. This encouraged me to work on identifying potential tipping points in the climate system and developing early warning methods for them.

The resulting research has been recognised with a Times Higher Education Award for Research Project of the Year (2008) and a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award (2013).

I am responsible for helping develop the University of Exeter’s strategy in sustainability research. I also taught one of the world’s first Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) on climate change to more than 15,000 people.

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Professor David Stephenson

Chair in the Statistical Modelling of Weather and Climate, University of Exeter

I am world-recognised for my expertise in statistical modelling of weather and climate processes. I have served as lead author on the regional climate chapter 14 in IPCC AR5, and am contributing author on chapters 2 and 9.

As well as being Director of Exeter Climate Systems, I am a founding member of both the Willis Research Network and the Met Office Academic Partnership. I am also an elected member of the prestigious Academia Europaea – the European Academy of Science. 

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