The uptake and use of new climate projections in risk assessment and decision making in the UK


Contact Professor Jason Lowe and Professor Suraje Dessai  to discuss this project further informally.

Project description

The UK Government has commissioned a new set of climate scenarios as a tool for national and local Government, businesses and other interested stakeholders to assess the challenges, opportunities and potential actions needed in the face of climate variability and future climate change. The scenarios and guidance on using them will be released during 2018:  Unlike previous UK national scenarios the current project to produce scenarios and guidance has placed a greater emphasis on user requirements and needs during the design and production phases and has attempted to learn lessons around what has hindered the uptake of previous climate information for risk planning in the UK (e.g., Tang and Dessai 2012, Porter et al. 2015). We now want to understand whether this has been successful and critically assess and publish what could work better in the future. 

The aim of this PhD project is to study the uptake of these new scenarios, called UKCP18, and their use in a number of decision-making, planning and communication for climate adaptation related issues in the UK. It will draw from the literature and good practice to develop a range of metrics to measure the success of the scenario information and critically assess how future national scenarios can be improved. Part of this task may involve comparing the UK experience with that of one or more nations who have recently produced scenarios or are planning to do so over the next year or so (Lorenz et al. 2017, Skelton et al. 2017). 

The successful candidate is likely to come from a background of either physical or social science and will develop and apply techniques from social science to track and measure the uptake and use of the climate scenario products. This will require the candidate to develop a detailed understanding of the different climate products and user applications. The project will be supervised by Professor Jason Lowe, who led the production of the new scenarios and is responsible for considering the provision of future climate information by the Met Office, and Professor Suraje Desai, who researches the use and uptake of climate information for decision-making.  


Lorenz, S., S. Dessai, P. M. Forster and J. Paavola (2017). "Adaptation planning and the use of climate change projections in local government in England and Germany." Regional Environmental Change 17(2): 425-435. 

Porter, J. J., D. Demeritt and S. Dessai (2015). "The right stuff? informing adaptation to climate change in British Local Government." Global Environmental Change 35: 411-422. 

Skelton, M., J. J. Porter, S. Dessai, D. N. Bresch and R. Knutti (2017). "The social and scientific values that shape national climate scenarios: a comparison of the Netherlands, Switzerland and the UK." Regional Environmental Change 17(8): 2325-2338. 

Tang, S. and S. Dessai (2012). "Usable Science? The U.K. Climate Projections 2009 and Decision Support for Adaptation Planning." Weather, Climate, and Society 4(4): 300-313. 

For more information on UKCP09 see:

For information on UKCP18 see:

Entry requirements

Applications are invited from candidates with or expecting a minimum of a UK upper second class honours degree (2:1), and/or a Master's degree in a related discipline.

How to apply

Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the university's website. Please state clearly in the research information section that the PhD you wish to be considered for is the ‘The uptake and use of new climate projections in risk assessment and decision making in the UK' as well as Professor Jason Lowe as your proposed supervisor.

Candidates are also asked to:

(i)              submit a statement of motivation that explains why this project is of particular interest and how their qualifications map onto the requirements of this project; and

(ii)            provide up to 1000 words document with their ideas for a methodology to approach this challenge. 

We welcome scholarship applications from all suitably-qualified candidates, but UK black and minority ethnic (BME) researchers are currently under-represented in our Postgraduate Research community, and we would therefore particularly encourage applications from UK BME candidates. All scholarships will be awarded on the basis of merit.

If you require any further information about the application process please contact the Graduate School Office e:, or t: +44 (0)113 343 1634.