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Dr Peter Stott

Peter leads the Climate Monitoring and Attribution team. He is an expert in the attribution of climate change to anthropogenic and natural causes.

Areas of expertise:

  • Climate modelling of past and future climate.

  • Attribution of past changes to their natural and anthropogenic contributions.

  • Cimate monitoring.

Current activities

Peter is the Scientific Strategic Head for the Climate Monitoring and Attribution areas. He leads the development of the scientific research for developing a better observational evidence base for responding to climate variability and change and and for improving our understanding of the causes of observed changes. The group is responsible for developing observational datasets for monitoring, including the HadCRUT global surface temperature series, and for enabling the better use of observations to improve the skill of climate forecasts through better model initialisation, and through better understanding of current model deficiencies to improve the representation of processes in models.

His personal research interests include the development of attribution to regional scales and to the analysis of extremes and the use of past changes to infer observational constraints on future changes. He is interested in the development of operational systems for attributing the causes of extreme weather events in near-real time by calculating the odds of such events and how they have changed as a result of different factors. Better information of this sort could help to better inform adaptation strategies and help avoid "misattribution" whereby people can be over-eager to blame an extreme weather event on either climate change or natural weather fluctuations. An important component of future research will be incorporating better process understanding into attribution analyses.

Career background

Peter joined the Met Office Hadley Centre in 1996 to work on detection and attribution of past climate change. During that time he wrote many scientific papers, often in collaboration with colleagues from other institutes, and was involved in the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as a Contributing Author. In 2006 he became Manager of the Understanding and Attributing Climate Change team and in 2008 became the Head of the Climate Monitoring and Attribution group. From 2004 he was heavily involved in the production of the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC as a Lead Author for both the Working Group 1 report on the Physical Science Basis and the Synthesis Report, which in addition covers impacts, adaptation and mitigation. He thinks it is important to communicate scientific findings about climate to the public and has given many media interviews, including on TV, radio and to many print journalists.

Peter has a first degree in Mathematics from Durham University and completed Part III of the Mathematics Tripos at Cambridge University. The research for his PhD at Imperial College, London was atmospheric modelling of the environmental consequences of the Chernobyl nuclear accident. After that he carried out post-doctoral research at Edinburgh University on stratospheric ozone depletion.

Key papers include:

  • Stott, P. A., S. F. B. Tett, G. S. Jones, M. R. Allen, J. F. B. Mitchell, G. J. Jenkins., 2000. External control of twentieth century temperature change by natural and anthropogenic forcings. Science, 290, 2133-2137.

  • Stott, P. A., J. A. Kettleborough, 2002. Origins and estimates of uncertainty in predictions of twenty-first century temperature rise. Nature, 416, 723-726.

  • Stott, P. A., 2003. Attribution of regional scale temperature changes to anthropogenic and natural causes. Geophys. Res. Lett.., Vol. 30, doi 10.1029/2003GL017324.

  • Stott, P.A., D.A. Stone M. R. Allen, 2004: Human contribution to the European heatwave of 2003. Nature, 432, 610-614.

  • Christidis, N., P. A. Stott, S. Brown, G. C. Hegerl, and J. Caesar, 2005: Detection of change in temperature extremes during the second half of the twentieth century. Geophys. Res. Lett., 32, doi:10.1029/2005GL023885.

  • Stott, P. A., J. F. B. Mitchell, M. R. Allen, T. Delworth, J. M. Gregory, G. Meehl, and B. Santer, 2006: Observational constraints on past attributable warming and predictions of future global warming. J. Climate, 19, 3055-3069.

  • Stott, P. A., R. T. Sutton, D. M. Smith, 2008: Detection and attribution of Atlantic salinity changes. Geophys. Res. Lett., 35, doi:10.1029/2008GL035874.

  • Palmer, M. D., S. A. Good, K. Haines, N. A. Rayner, P. A. Stott, 2009: A new perspective on global warming of the oceans. Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, doi:10.1029/2009GL039491.

External recognition

  • Lead Author for Chapter 9, "Understanding and Attributing Climate Change", IPCC Working Group 1 (WG1) Fourth Assessment Report (AR4).

  • Member of Core Writing Team for IPCC AR4 Synthesis Report and Focal Point for the Synthesis Report Topic on Causes of Change.

  • Member of writing team on IPCC Good Practice Guidance Paper on Detection and Attribution Related to Anthropogenic Climate Change.

  • Co-Recipient of the 2008 Oceanic and Atmospheric Research Outstanding Scientific Paper Award.

  • Lead-author paper on "Human contribution to the European heatwave of 2003" chosen by Nature as one of 10 highlighted papers they published in 2004.

  • Associate Editor Journal of Climate.

Last Updated: 3 June 2010