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 on a good day, 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 were 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 45, in recent years guided by Neil Johnson and Tim Neill on the harder ones.
Aiguille and Arête de Rochefort
I am 55. 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. While continuing to work part-time in the Met Office Hadley Centre as a Science Fellow, I took a new post in April 2003 as a senior scientist in the climate programme of the National Centre for Atmospheric Science, at the Department of Meteorology of the University of Reading, with the title of professor from October 2006. I served as a lead author of the projections and ocean observations chapters and the technical summary of the IPCC WG1 Fourth Assessment Report (2007), and of the sea-level chapter and the technical summary of the IPCC WG1 Fifth Assessment Report (2013).
The European Research Council funded my research on sea-level change due to ocean density and circulation change with an Advanced Grant during 2010-2016 (project "Seachange"), and on transient climate change in the coupled atmosphere--ocean system with an Advanced Grant that began in October 2018 (project "Couplet"). I was awarded the FitzRoy prize of the Royal Meteorological Society in 2016 for my work on sea-level and climate sensitivity, elected a Fellow of the Royal Society and a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union in 2017, and received the Frontiers of Knowledge Climate Change Award (11th edition) from the BBVA Foundation in 2019, jointly with my long-standing colleagues John Church and Anny Cazenave for achievements in detecting, understanding and projecting sea-level rise due to climate change.