Investigating the understudied impacts of climate change on extreme heat in Africa

About the project or challenge area

One of the more well-understood impacts of climate change is an intensification of heatwaves. Yet, for Africa, arguably the most vulnerable continent, there have only been a handful of scientific papers written about heatwaves. Meanwhile, evidence from recent observations and climate model projections indicates that African countries experience some of the largest increases in temperature extremes with global warming. There is a pressing need to better understand changes in extreme heat in African countries. This project will address this gap, investigating recent changes in extreme temperatures, and what changes are projected to occur in future.

Why choose this opportunity?

You will have the opportunity to investigate a topic which is both scientifically interesting and has urgent and real world applications. A better understanding of the risk of extreme heat could directly motivate and inform actions which reduce heat-related mortality. You will receive training from scientists at University of Bristol (including Rachel James, Dann Mitchell, and Dave Macleod), and the Met Office (including Joanne Robbins). You will have the opportunity to develop your scientific, data analysis, and programming skills, by investigating state-of-the-art observational and climate model datasets. You will be connected to our networks of collaborators, including the Climate Hazards Center (Santa Barbara), University of Cape Town, University of Yaounde (Cameroon), University of Nairobi (Kenya), and KNUST (Ghana).

The Met Office is a partner on the project, and you will visit and collaborate with Joanne Robbins and the Weather Impacts Team, developing insights from your analysis to inform heatwave forecasting for African countries, including via their Global Hazard Map.

About you

This project would suit someone with a keen interest in hazards and climate change, and excellent quantitative analysis and communication skills. The analysis will be computational: prior experience is not essential, but an enthusiasm to learn computer programming skills (e.g. Python, R, Matlab) is important!

How to apply

All students can apply using the button below, following the Cabot Masters by Research Admission Statement. Please note that this is an advertised project, which means you only have to complete Section A of the Research Statement.

Before applying, we recommend getting in touch with the project's supervisors. If you are interested in this project and would like to learn more about the research you will be undertaking, please use the contact details on this page.

Lecturer in Climate Science Supervisor

Your supervisor for this project will be Dr Rachel James, Lecturer in Climate Science in the School of Geographical Sciences. You can contact her at +44 (0) 7891760087 or email


Your co-supervisor for this project will be Dr Dann Mitchell in the School of Geographical Sciences. You can contact him at +44 (0) 117 954 5978 or email


Find out more about your prospective research community

The Environmental Change theme is a vibrant community of researchers who integrate expertise across multiple disciplines to provide the evidence base and solutions to tackle the world's most pressing environmental challenges. Find out more about the Environmental Change research theme.

Edit this page