Fourth Presidental History Symposium


Development of global warming research at the United Kingdom Meteorological Office during the 1970s and mid-1980s

Sang-Hyun Kim, University of Texas, Austin, TX

It is well recognized today that, since the late-1980s, Britain has been one of the key players in the science and politics of global warming. In 1988, Sir John Houghton, then director-general of the United Kingdom Meteorological Office (UKMO), was appointed to chair the scientific working group of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was established by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) to advise governments on the state of knowledge of climate change. Later in 1990, the UKMO and the Department of Environment jointly set up the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research. The Centre formed a technical support unit for the IPCC's scientific working group, assisting the publication of the first IPCC Scientific Assessment report. Yet, little is known about the history of global climate change research at the UKMO prior to the mid-1980s. This presentation explores how global warming research evolved at the UKMO during the 1970s and mid-1980s. Like in the US, the advent and expansion of global warming research at the UKMO owed much to the development of General Circulation Models (GCMs). The resulting GCM-based science of global warming was by no means homogeneous, however. Different institutional goals, national political environments and hierarchical relations between scientific subcultures all combined to produce distinct paths and styles of global warming research.

Session 2, Meteorology: From Ben Franklin to Climate Change: Part II
Tuesday, 31 January 2006, 2:00 PM-5:00 PM, A310

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