Understanding climate
for the benefit of society

Research theme 

Global Climate

Current climate change in a broader context.


teleconnections, interactions and feedbacks, predictability, storms and storm tracks, ocean circulation and ventilation, climate and human evolution, tropical variability, Atlantic-European climate, past warm climates


The climate system is changing at unprecedented rates. Understanding the human influence compared to natural variability and natural forcings is critical for predicting the current and future course of global climate.

We investigate the dynamics that give rise to large-scale patterns of surface temperature, rainfall, winds, ocean currents and sea surface elevation, as well as to changes in these patterns over time. Such dynamics act on a wide range of time scales, from days or seasons to centuries and beyond.

Examples of dynamics on the time scale of days are midlatitude weather systems. For seasons it will be monsoons, when they occur and their intensity. When we look at the time scale of centuries and beyond, the large patterns are important, such as variation in the ocean thermohaline circulation, interactions with changing continents, topography, greenhouse gases and solar radiation.

We are interested in how such key processes give rise to past, present and future climate conditions.

Research within the Global Climate theme helps to set current climate change in a broader context within Earth’s history. Targeted studies using the instrumental record, reanalysis data, prediction experiments and modelling experiments advance knowledge in processes that control - and allow us to “forecast” - climate variations and change. Extending the scope to records of past climates establishes a baseline for viewing ongoing global warming and its long-term effects, and allows us to investigate feedback mechanisms that may have spurred earlier climate shifts. Together, these activities contribute to evaluating climate models, improving climate predictions, and constraining climate change projections.