St Andrews to lead £1.2 million international research project on the future of heatwaves

Thursday 12 October 2023

The University of St Andrews has been awarded a £1.2 million grant to lead a new international climate change research project known as GLOBAL-EX.

It is well understood that heatwaves are becoming more frequent and more intense as the global climate warms. Temperature records are being broken again and again: in 2022 the UK experienced a temperature in excess of 40C for the first time since measurements began.

Although the impacts of extreme heat are widespread and severe, with parts of the world potentially becoming uninhabitable by the end of this century, the future of extreme temperatures is highly uncertain. Anticipating the future of heatwaves has become vital to the ways in which preparations are made for their impact on global health, infrastructures, society, agriculture, and transportation.

The GLOBAL-EX project will be led by Dr Michael Byrne from the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences. Dr Byrne leads the University’s Climate Dynamics Lab, and the goal of the project is to use computer models, Earth observations and physical theory to build a robust global understanding of extreme temperatures in a changing climate. Originally a European Research Council Starting Grant now funded through UK Research and Innovation, GLOBAL-EX will run from April 2024 for five years. It will involve collaborations with researchers at the University of Exeter, UCLA, and ETH Zürich.

Responding to the award announcement, Dr Byrne said: “Record-shattering heatwaves across the world underline the importance of predicting and preparing for these extreme weather events in a changing climate. We are excited to launch the GLOBAL-EX project, which aims to advance fundamental understanding of the physical drivers of heatwaves and identify new pathways to narrowing the large uncertainties in future projections, with benefits for vulnerable regions around the world.”

Professor Tom Brown, Vice-Principal (Research, Collections and Innovation), added: “It is great to see the award of the GLOBAL-EX project led by Dr Michael Bryne to the University of St Andrews. The project is reflective of our commitment to support a sustainable future through world-leading research, and its exciting outcomes will play a key role in informing global climate science.”

Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office.

Category Research

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