Apart from climate research, I like thinking and talking about many other
subjects! I'm interested in languages but, frustratingly, I cannot speak any
fluently except English, and adequate French for functional conversations.
I enjoy classical music; Rachmaninov and Bach are my
favourite composers. I play the piano a bit.
I read all sorts of books.
I have spent considerable effort in improving the energy-efficiency of my
own house, which is a building of Victorian age, and have so far reduced my
household CO2 emissions by about two-thirds, mainly by
improved thermal insulation and domestic renewable generation
of heat and electricity.
I am keen on hill-walking and Alpine mountaineering, and a few years ago I started rock-climbing in order to be able to get up some more of the 4000 m peaks in the Alps. I'm no rock star (I can just about lead Hard Severe outdoors, and 6a+ indoors), but you don't need great technical ability on many of the normal routes in the Alps. I find Alpine ascents tremendously exciting and stunningly beautiful. On one particularly exciting day (15 July 2003), a friend and I climbed the Matterhorn, and were evacuated while on the way down by helicopter owing to a rockfall that had blocked the bottom part of the route. (Subsequently the large number of Alpine rockfalls during summer 2003 have been explained as being caused by thawing of permafrost due to the exceptionally hot weather.) Of the 50 Alpine summits over 4000 m (according to Martin Moran's list), I have so far climbed 33, in recent years guided by Neil Johnson on some of the harder ones.
Aiguille and Arête de Rochefort
I am 52. I was born in Welwyn Garden City, 20 miles north of London, and went to primary and secondary school there, except that for three years (ages 4 to 7) of my childhood our family lived on Manhattan (upper east side). Before beginning university I spent five months in Kenya on voluntary service. I took my first degree in 1986 at Oxford in physics, and my PhD in 1990 in particle physics at Birmingham concerned with the UA1 experiment at CERN in Geneva, where I worked for 15 months.
My first job was for a year at the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia at Norwich, with Phil Jones and Tom Wigley. I joined the climate change group, led by John Mitchell, at the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research soon after the Centre opened in 1990. I was joint coordinating lead author of the sea level chapter of the Third Assessment Report (2001) of Working Group 1 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. During autumn 2001 I was a visiting scientist in the climate modelling group, led by Andrew Weaver, at the University of Victoria in Canada. In April 2003, I took a new post as a senior scientist in the climate division of the National Centre for Atmospheric Science, at the Department of Meteorology of the University of Reading, while continuing to work part-time as well in the Met Office Hadley Centre as a Research Fellow. I was given the personal title of professor by the University in May 2006. I was a lead author of the projections and ocean observations chapters and the technical summary of the IPCC WG1 Fourth Assessment Report (2007). In November 2009 I was awarded an Advanced Grant by the European Research Council for research on sea-level change. During (northern hemisphere) winter 2013 I visited John Church and his group at CSIRO Marine Research in Hobart. I served as a lead author of the sea-level chapter and the technical summary of the IPCC WG1 Fifth Assessment Report (2013). I was awarded the FitzRoy prize of the Royal Meteorological Society in 2016 for my work on sea-level and climate sensitivity.