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University of Bristol joins world-leading alliance to advance weather and climate science

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Press release issued: 22 April 2020

The University of Bristol is today joining forces with the Met Office, together with UCL, to expand and transform an alliance which will strengthen the UK as a world leader in predicting climate hazards and tackling their far-reaching impact.

Coinciding with Earth Day, a celebration of support for environmental protection, both universities are now officially part of the Met Office Academic Partnership (MOAP), which brings together some of the world’s best researchers to forecast extreme weather and its societal implications as well as develop innovative, evidence-based solutions.

The University of Bristol is globally renowned for its understanding of hazardous events, including severe flooding, storm surges, and heatwaves, as well as geophysical occurrences, such as volcanoes and earthquakes. Its comprehensive grasp of the risks and ramifications they pose, coupled with a strong legacy of collaborative working, will bolster the partnership in addressing these global challenges.

Dr Dann Mitchell, Associate Professor in Atmospheric Science at the School of Geographical Sciences and Co-Lead of the Cabot Institute for the Environment’s Natural Hazards and Disaster Risk theme, said: “This marks the culmination of a long-held ambition so I’m delighted to be joining this prestigious partnership, which presents an exciting opportunity to further build on our important and successful work with the Met Office.

"Weather-related hazards are commonplace on an island like the UK, so enhancing prediction and decision making ahead of time will help mitigate against extremely impactful events, for example the flooding of settlements in Yorkshire last winter.” 

Dr Mitchell, who has been appointed as the university's joint chair of the partnership, specialises in climate dynamics and impacts, especially in relation to extreme climate, notably heat hazards and the effects on human health, which will form part of the partnership’s renewed focus. 

Through the University of Bristol’s interdisciplinary approach, academics take a holistic view, examining hazards in the context of geography, infrastructure, politics, and socio-economic pressures. This research is facilitated through its research institutes, in particular the Cabot Institute for the Environment, a community of hundreds of researchers united by a common cause – protecting the environment and living better in a changing planet.

Professor Dani Schmidt, Faculty of Science Research Director and member of the MOAP Research Advisory Panel, said: “Climate change is happening. Now we need to go from describing impacts to developing solutions with stakeholders in the communities, cities and private sector. The joint expertise at the University of Bristol and the Met office offers exciting opportunities to support decision making on key risks such as heat and drought impacts.”

The University of Bristol and UCL join the Universities of Exeter, Leeds, Oxford, and Reading, as MOAP partners.

The partnership aims to make the outputs of weather and climate models more meaningful by using novel approaches, including machine learning, to accelerate and enhance fully realistic atmospheric models at a reduced cost.

Professors Tim Peters and Paddy Ireland, Interim Pro Vice-Chancellors for Research and Enterprise at the University of Bristol, said: “We are very excited by the University of Bristol's new partnership with the Met Office, which we believe will enrich research at both institutions. We are particularly excited to share our world-leading climate hazard expertise, while at the same time learning from the Met Office’s exceptional forecasting ability.

"We are sure this partnership will be truly innovative, leading to major scientific advances, bringing beneficial impacts for the climate, for society and for individual citizens.” 

In addition to working with leading academics, the MOAP also supports early career scientists, working with PhD students and academic fellows to make joint appointments and develop future talent.

Professor Stephen Belcher, Met Office Chief Scientist, said: “I am delighted that UCL and University of Bristol are to join the Met Office Academic Partnership. They bring a wealth of talent and expertise to this thriving partnership that will ensure the Met Office delivers its research and innovation strategy, and improves weather and climate science and services.”

Further information

About the University of Bristol

The University is ranked within the top 10 universities in the UK and top 50 in the world (QS World University Rankings 2020); it is also ranked among the top five institutions in the UK for its research, according to new analysis of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014; and is the 4th most targeted university by top UK employers. 

The University was founded in 1876 and was granted its Royal Charter in 1909.  It was the first university in England to admit women on the same basis as men. 

The University is a major force in the economic, social and cultural life of Bristol and the region, but is also a significant player on the world stage. It has over 16,000 undergraduates and nearly 6,000 postgraduate students from more than 100 countries, and its research links span the globe. 

About the Cabot Institute for the Environment

The Cabot Institute for the Environment is a diverse community of 600 experts, united by a common cause: protecting our environment and identifying ways of living better with our changing planet.

Together, we deliver the evidence base and solutions to tackle the challenges of food security, water, low carbon energy, city futures, environmental change, and natural hazards and disaster risk

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