Global coupled modelling

Ever greater attention is being focused on the potential magnitude and effects of climate change induced by human emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. Providing the best possible scientific advice depends heavily on computer simulations using global coupled climate models. The credibility of such models and their simulations rests on their ability to capture the range and complexity of physical and biogeochemical processes in the Earth's climate system.

The global coupled modelling team acts as a focal point for work to evaluate, understand and improve performance aspects of the global coupled models developed and used in the Met Office.

Our scientific strategy involves:

  • designing, running and analysing climate model experiments to understand key mechanisms in the climate system and feedbacks under climate change;

  • using a Seamless model assessment approach in the Unified Model framework, making use of the ability of model predictions for short timescales to provide a means of understanding and quantifying uncertainties in longer timescale predictions;

  • taking account of the performance of comprehensive coupled climate models developed elsewhere in our analysis and as a framework for understanding the robustness of model projections, a multi-model approach using independently developed models such as those from the CMIP3 and ENSEMBLES projects;

  • maximising synergies with scientific research activities in other UK and international science projects and programmes, building collaborations to tackle key modelling uncertainties in climate change projections, for example changes in the hydrological cycle.

Key aims

  • To provide updated scientific advice on climate change to the IPCC Fifth Assessment and UK government.

  • To improve hydrological predictions in Met Office models.

  • To contribute to the development of a next-generation Met Office climate model.

Current projects

IPCC Fifth Assessment

Based on Met Office climate prediction model: HadGEM2 family experiments and other input, we will provide updated advice and modelling input to the IPCC Fifth Scientific Assessment of climate change, due for completion in 2013. In particular, we expect to provide updated advice on science related to climate stabilization scenarios, Earth system feedbacks, terrestrial vegetation and the water cycle.

Improving Hydrological Predictions (IHP)

This Met Office project, co-ordinated by the global coupled modelling team, aims to understand the dynamical and physical processes which control the large scale water cycle and how it may be affected by climate change. The aim is that, through improved understanding and modelling of these processes, it will be possible to improve hydrological predictions on a range of timescales from weather forecasting to climate prediction.

DFID-MOHC Climate Science Research Partnership for Africa

As part of this research programme, the aim is to improve our understanding of processes affecting African rainfall systems.

The European Union Water and Global Change (WATCH) project

Members of the team contribute to the EU WATCH project, which brings together the hydrological, water resources and climate communities to analyse, quantify and predict the components of the current and future global water cycles and related water resources.

NERC Changing Water Cycle

The NERC CWC programme, based outside the Met Office in UK universities, is complementary to the IHP project. It aims to develop an integrated, quantitative understanding of the changes taking place in the global water cycle, involving all components of the earth system. We are in active collaboration with other UK scientists on this programme.

HadGEM3 development

We contribute to the development of a next-generation model Met Office climate prediction model: HadGEM3 family, specifically towards improvements to global water conservation and the simulated large scale hydrological cycle.

Arctic/Subarctic Ocean Fluxes (ASOF)

We contribute in an advisory capacity to the ASOF international programme as part of its science steering committee.


In collaboration with the NERC RAPID-WATCH programme, we are contributing to the development of a traceable model hierarchy suitable for producing a scientifically robust risk assessment for rapid or irreversible change in the ocean circulation driven by climate change.