Climate and Earth System Modelling

‌Through numerical modelling, we aim to understand past and present climates, and to use this understanding to better predict future climates. ‌

Our primary tools are complex Earth system and climate models, such as those used in the latest IPCC report, and much of our work feeds directly into the IPCC.  These models include representations of many aspects of the system, including atmosphere, oceans, the land surface, cryosphere, and biogeochemistry.  One of our primary focuses is the links between these different components, and the fascinating complexity that results from their interactions.

We are highly collaborative, and we play a key role in the University of Bristol Cabot Institute, conducting world-leading research on the challenges arising from how we live with, depend on, and affect our planet.  We also have strong collaborations across the UK and internationally.

In addition, we have also investigated unintended consequences of sunshade geoengineering, cooling the planet with crops, and even modelled the climate of Middle Earth!

You can browse some of our model simulations here.

Biogeochemical and Earth System Modelling

We use numerical models to understand biogeochemical dynamics and feedbacks in the Earth system over a large range of spatial and temporal scales and to elucidate their role in past, present and future climates.

For this purpose, we develop and/or apply a plethora of state-of-the-art numerical modelling tools ranging from Earth system models of intermediate complexity (cGENIE), to General Circulation Models (MITgcm), Ecosystem Models (DARWIN Model), Early Diagenetic Models (BRNS), coupled estuarine models (C-GEM), Microbial Models (SHIMMER) and advanced techniques such as, for instance, Artificial Neural Networks, large-scale multi-gene phylogenetics and Bayesian Molecular Clock analyses. We use these models to investigate the biogeochemical dynamics in a variety of different environments ranging from the entire Earth System to the Atmosphere, the Ocean, Coral Reefs, Marine Sediments, Soils, Estuaries, Fjords and Glacial Environments.

Our research approach is based on interdisciplinary knowledge synthesis. In addition to developing and applying models, we also participate in collecting new data and data-model comparison, often closely collaborating with colleagues within the School of Geographical Sciences the wider University of Bristol community  (in particular the School of Chemistry, the School of Earth Sciences, and the Bristol Cabot Institute), as well as nationally and internationally.

Increasing scientific awareness is important to us and we thus organise and participate in a number of high profile local and national outreach events, such as among others, Science Cafes, Discover, the Festival of Nature, the Royal Society Summer Exhibit, or an exhibit on Life in extremes at the Science Museum, London.


There are several lines of research in geochemistry.  These include high-precision dating techniques to obtain chronological control on change in the Earth System (principally uranium-series and radiocarbon methods), and Sr isotopes for extracting palaeoclimate information preserved in the sediments of semi-enclosed seas like the Mediterranean.

We use a wide-range of deposits, including stalagmites from caves, but also bone, coral and sediments, to obtain high-resolution records of past temperature, sea levels, vegetation change, faunal evolution.