The future of UK heat extremes and lessons from the past

About the project or challenge area

Summer heat extremes pose a significant and increasing health risk in the UK, having caused thousands of deaths in England over the past 5 years. The latest climate projections for the UK (UKCP18) have been shown to represent broad characteristics of UK summer climate well compared to other climate models (Kennedy-Asser et al., 2021, ERL). However, a process-based analysis of the drivers of past heat extremes – those responsible for mortality in recent years – is urgently required if we are to have a full appreciation of how risks might change in the future. For example, Kennedy-Asser et al. indicated a role for the North Atlantic Oscillation in the amplification of extreme temperatures, while model representations of processes such as the urban heat island and land-atmosphere feedbacks require further evaluation.

This project will contribute to a larger UK Climate Resilience Program funded project, Open Climate Impacts Modelling Framework (OpenCLIM), led by the Tyndall Centre at University of East Anglia (UEA). Researchers from UEA and other universities affiliated with OpenCLIM may contribute expertise to this project.

Why choose this opportunity?

You will work with a small team at the University of Bristol within the wider OpenCLIM project, bringing the benefits of a focussed research culture and project, but with opportunities for wider networking and exchange of ideas with researchers from other universities. You will gain experience in climate data analysis, processes, risk and climate impacts, working with the latest climate projection data available for the UK. Through the OpenCLIM project, you will have the opportunity to work with UK based policy makers and stakeholders and to contribute towards the longer-term methodology and analysis that will inform the UK’s CCRA4. This is an opportunity to work on an important and timely topic and our research has gained recent media attention (e.g. and

About you

Students with a background in physical, environmental or geographical sciences with an interest in climate would be preferable. This project will involve numerical analysis of climate data and it is recommended students should have some experience of programming, for example using MATLAB, R or Python.

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.


Your supervisor for this project will be Dr Oliver AndrewsLecturer in Biogeochemistry, School of Geographical Sciences.  You can contact him at +44 (0) 117 3316789 or email


Your co-supervisor for this project will be Dr Alan Kennedy-Asser in the School of Geographical Sciences. You can contact him at +44 (0) 117 3316789 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.

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