Leading scientists call for collaboration and investment on climate change

Nine leading climate scientists call for fundamental improvements to how climate change is modelled. Image by Alvin Leopold on Unsplash.

Nine of the world’s leading climate scientists have called for major investment to build the next generation of climate models.

They are calling for climate models to shed light on water - from drought to flooding - claiming that the impact of water could have major implications for UK and international firms from insurance to engineering and beyond.

The group is seeking to highlight how existing models for climate change massively over-simplify precipitation, with models failing to account for fundamental physics. 

The associated effects on water from climate change range from drought to flooding and impact everything from food security to infrastructure. 

The team of experts say it is incredibly important for insurance, financial services, engineering and many other industry sectors to be able to accurately predict the risk of water-related climate change, such as flooding and changing patterns of rainfall, to plan and price effectively.

Water risk specialist Fathom is one of a growing number of modellers attempting to derive tangible flood hazard data from existing climate models. 

Extracting data from climate models, such as the Met Office’s UKCP18, the company is creating detailed computational flood models offering projections for present-day and future climates. 

However, it says this is no easy task, requiring extensive time, high performance computing and expertise to produce.

The group of leading climate scientists is now calling for international collaboration and a collective investment alongside the creation of an international group of leading modelling centres with dedicated facilities.

This will bring both the computational ability and the intellectual support required to make the step up in modelling capacity. If delivered, these will provide reliable and regularly updated predictions of evolving physical climate risk.

Described by the group as a “part of the urgent mission to save planet earth,” these models are essential to achieving the twin goals of achieving net zero and climate resilience. 

While the investment required is estimated by the group at around £250m, it says this pales in insignificance when compared to the potential future cost to humanity of hydrological extremes. 

Professor Paul Bates, from Fathom and the University of Bristol, said: “This investment represents about 0.1% of the estimated annual costs of hydrological extremes, not counting for the lost lives, and these costs will only rise as climate change continues to bite.”

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