Broken icebergs in the ocean

Met Office Hadley Centre Climate Programme

The impacts of climate change are already evident both in the UK and worldwide, through changes in extreme weather, diminishing snow and ice, and rising sea levels. The Paris Agreement in December 2015 marked a turning point in climate negotiations with 195 governments agreeing to take global action to tackle climate change. Furthermore, the second UK Climate Change Risk Assessment published in 2017 identified susbtantial threats and opportunities to the UK from climate change. As a result, the focus of the evidence needs for UK Government has changed to reflect these changing drivers: moving from proving that climate change is happening to understanding the nature of the change. Robust, impartial and targeted climate science is needed to manage the risks of climate change, including developing mitigation and adaptation strategies and to exploit any opportunities, trade-offs or co-benefits of mitigation and adaptation actions. 

The Met Office Hadley Centre Climate Programme undertakes scientifically excellent research benefitting the UK climate science base including the development of core UK climate science infrastructure. It is supported by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), and serves the needs of the UK Government by providing policy-relevant scientific evidence and advice in the post-Paris context. The new 2018-2021 work plan has been designed around key questions that the UK Government has agreed the climate science community will need to answer over the next five years and beyond. The Met Office Hadley Centre will be one of the main contributors to answering these questions in collaboration with national and international partners. 

Key questions for climate science for UK Government:

  1. Present weather and climate risks: How is weather and climate changing in different parts of the world and what is influencing these changes? In the UK, how do these changes vary by region and geography?
  2. Future weather and climate risks under different emission scenarios: How will weather and climate evolve over the next century in different parts of the world under different emission scenarios? How will climate change affect the duration, location, frequency, and intensity of extreme weather events? What are the risks and impacts of climate variability and change globally and at the UK scale on a range of timescales?
  3. Mitigation strategies and the case for early action: What global carbon budgets and emission pathways are compatible with different levels of warming (i.e., 1.5°C, 2°C, and higher)? What is the required magnitude and rate of emissions reduction to stay below these levels of warming, and when should net zero emissions be achieved to deliver these? What are the implications of delaying mitigation actions, and what are the consequences of an overshoot in temperatures in terms of physical impacts and potential for irreversible change?
  4. Impacts and opportunities of mitigation and adaptation: What are the physical impacts and related opportunities, trade-offs and co-benefits (e.g. on air quality) of the mitigation and adaptation actions associated with these levels of warming (i.e., 1.5°C, 2°C, and higher)?

The new programme builds on the successful developments from the previous (2015-2018) programme, including new techniques for attribution of extreme weather events, a new physical climate model, HadGEM3, and a new Earth System Model, UKESM1. By exploiting the new high performance computer installed in 2016, the new programme will:

  • make a substantial advance in the prediction and projection of regional climate change with a greater focus on climate induced risks;
  • provide authoritative advice on the benefits of achieving, and the risks of missing, the temperature goals agreed in Paris;
  • develop prediction and monitoring systems to enable rapid delivery of advice to Government before, during and in the aftermath of extreme climatic events that affect the UK or other regions worldwide.