Our vision

The aim of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) is to improve scientific understanding of the climate system and its interactions with society.

Our research is directed towards answering these key questions:

  • How and why does our climate change – past, present and future – and what are the implications?
  • How can we quantify, reduce and communicate the uncertainty in the climate information that is developed for society?

Our expertise allows us to take multiple approaches needed to address the above key questions.

Learning from the palaeoclimate record

We use the context of the past on different timescales, and in different regions, to better understand how the climate system behaves and the range of natural climate variability that has occurred. We apply these insights from the past to provide better context for current and future change.

Development and analysis of instrumental observations

Our datasets are used world-wide for monitoring climate change, understanding processes and evaluating climate models.

Understanding atmosphere, ocean and ice interactions

We research how these critical feedbacks affect the Earth system, climate variability and climate change.

Better understanding of climate dynamics and climate model performance

We make better climate predictions by quantifying and reducing uncertainty in modelled climate change processes

Providing a robust foundation for climate services and developing decision support tools

We combine observations and models with statistical tools to provide climate change information. We enable the assessment of diverse climate impacts across multiple scales and sectors, especially in the area of climate extremes.

Alongside its research activities, CRU has an educational role through its contribution to teaching within the School of Environmental Sciences (most notably, the MSc in Climate Change) and through its training of postgraduate research students. We are regarded as an authoritative source of information on climate change by the media and by decision makers in the public and business arenas.

What we do

CRU is widely recognised as one of the world's leading institutions concerned with the study of natural and anthropogenic climate change.

Consisting of a staff of around fifteen research scientists and students, CRU has developed a number of the data sets widely used in climate research, including the global temperature record used to monitor the state of the climate system, as well as statistical software packages and climate models.

CRU undertakes both pure and applied research, sponsored by contracts and grants from academic funding councils, government departments, intergovernmental agencies, charitable foundations, non-governmental organisations, commerce and industry.

The staff of CRU have an enviable publication record, contributing to both peer-review and popular journals as well as editing various newsletters and bulletins.

CRU is part of the School of Environmental Sciences with close links to other research groups within the department such as the Tyndall Centre. CRU undertakes collaborative research with institutes throughout the world on a diverse range of topics and coordinates or contributes to a number of networking activities.

Our history

A history of the Climatic Research Unit

 

The Climatic Research Unit (CRU) was established in the School of Environmental Sciences (ENV) at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich in 1972. The contribution of the Founding Director, Professor Hubert H. Lamb, cannot be overstated. Hubert Lamb's determination and vision can only be appreciated in the context of the view, generally prevailing within the scientific establishment in the 1960s, that the climate for all practical purposes could be treated as constant on timescales that are of relevance to humanity and its social and economic systems. The weather changed from day-to-day, from week-to-week, and season-to-season. There was interannual variability, but over years to centuries (the perceived argument went) a constancy was reliably evident. It is now recognised that the climate is not constant, but changes on all timescales – years to millennia, as well as the climatic changes on longer (e.g. ice age) timescales that had become accepted in the late 19th century. Hubert Lamb, encouraged by the support of Keith Clayton and Brian Funnell, Deans of ENV around the time, made the brave decision in 1971 that his pioneering work on climatic change would be best conducted at a university.

Many climatologists would now say that CRU's work in these early years played a major part in navigating the study of climatic change out of an academic backwater and started to set the agenda for the major research effort that followed. The purpose of this brief history is to document some of these achievements by subject, in a loose chronological order.

Hubert Lamb retired as Director in 1978. He was succeeded by Tom Wigley (to 1993), Trevor Davies (1993-1998), Jean Palutikof and Phil Jones (jointly from 1998 to 2004) and Phil Jones (to the present). Each has brought their own specialities to bear in guiding CRU through what have mostly been good times as far as successful research is concerned, but occasionally through periods of fallow funding, and sometimes very difficult periods.

Since its inception in 1972 until 1994, the only scientist who had a guaranteed salary was the Director. Every other research scientist relied on 'soft money' - grants and contracts - to continue his or her work. The situation improved after 1994, and at present four senior staff are fully funded as members of ENV/UEA faculty, contributing to the teaching programme and to administration and leadership within the university, as well as pursuing their research. The fact that CRU has and has had a number of long-standing research staff is testimony to the quality and relevance of our work. Such longevity in a research centre, dependent principally on soft money, in the UK university system is probably unprecedented. The number of CRU research staff as of the end of July 2012 is 12 (including those fully funded by ENV/UEA).

The early years

The early priority of CRU was set against the backdrop of there having been little investigation before the 1960s of past climatic changes and variability, except by geologists and botanists, although there was an excess of theories. The objective of CRU, therefore, was "to establish the past record of climate over as much of the world as possible, as far back in time as was feasible, and in enough detail to recognise and establish the basic processes, interactions, and evolutions in the Earth's fluid envelopes and those involving the Earth's crust and its vegetation cover". The early efforts towards this objective were the interpretation of documentary historical records. This was painstaking and challenging work and progressed through the 1970s.

In 1979, CRU hosted a remarkable, international, interdisciplinary conference (Climate and History), a turning point for the future work on historical climatology and the influence of climate on human societies. This type of work still has an important place in CRU's research portfolio to the present day, although it has broadened to include the development and analysis of early instrumental records and the extension of important climate indicators and datasets as far back in time as possible. A second international conference again focussing on historical climate variations and their links with societal change, but with a view to future changes and interactions, was held in 1998. You can access an almost complete list of CRU publications, including the volumes resulting from these two conferences.

Instrumental climate data

The area of CRU's work that has probably had the largest international impact was started in 1978 and continues through to the present-day: the production of the world's land-based, gridded (currently using 5° by 5° latitude/longitude boxes) temperature data set. This involved many person-years of painstaking data collection, checking and homogenization. In 1986, this analysis was extended to the marine sector (in co-operation with the Hadley Centre, Met Office from 1989), and so represented the first-ever synthesis of land and marine temperature data - i.e., the first global temperature record, demonstrating unequivocally that the globe has warmed since 1850, with the warming now reaching about 0.8°C . Work continues year-on-year to update and enhance the record and the publication of the value for the past year is eagerly awaited around the world. The most recent update is the HadCRUT4 dataset (see Morice et al. 2012, which additionally includes the CRU land component, CRUTEM4, Jones et al. 2012).

Besides the global temperature data set, there has been much CRU effort devoted to the compilation of a comprehensive, quality-controlled precipitation data base. This, together with CRU's high-resolution (0.5° by 0.5°) monthly datasets (for maximum and minimum temperature, precipitation, rainday counts, vapour pressure, cloudiness, wind speed and potential evapotranspiration) for all the world's inhabited land areas, has provided many researchers, in the UK and overseas, with their basic data for a whole range of studies. It is likely that CRU ranks only behind NCEP/NCARECMWF (ERA-40/ERA-Interim) and NCDC as the acknowledged data source by many climate scientists around the world.

Another research topic explored in the early days of CRU was the Southern Oscillation and its connections to the climate around the globe. This was amongst the first work to be undertaken on this phenomenon since its original identification by Sir Gilbert Walker in the 1920s, and presaged the later, enormous attention which would be paid to the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon. Research here is still ongoing and has expanded to other major modes of atmospheric or ocean circulation variability (the Northern and Southern Annular Modes, North Atlantic Oscillation, North Pacific Oscillation, Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation). One of CRU's most cited papers (Jones et al. 1997) is on the North Atlantic Oscillation, and has been cited over 1000 times - much more than the global temperature papers. CRU's work in this area has extended many of the indices, assessed the changing influence of these phenomena on surface climate and evaluated how well the phenomena and their climate impacts are simulated by Global Climate Models.

Extending the instrumental record

The vast potential of tree rings to provide annually-resolved climate reconstructions over thousands of years has been exploited by the application of rigorous statistical methods to tree-ring data. In collaboration with a number of institutions throughout the world - in particular through a strong association with the Institute of Forest, Snow and Landscape Research in Birmensdorf, Switzerland - CRU is regarded as one of the world's foremost exponents of dendroclimatology, with particular emphasis on addressing standardization issues in tree-ring chronology construction. On longer time scales, the first rigorous quantification of past climate from the distributions and assemblages of beetle remains was made. Understanding the past has always been a primary aim of CRU, and until recently was mainly only of academic interest. Placing the instrumental period in a longer timescale context has provided renewed interest in proxy climate reconstruction. CRU was the first to develop a time series (based on tree-ring and other proxy climate data) of average Northern Hemisphere summer temperatures over the last 1000 years, which suggested that the recent decades were probably the warmest period in the record. Milder centuries were evident at the beginning of the millennium, with markedly cooler ones in the 17th and 19th centuries, but it is more likely than not that the average temperature for the period since 1975 is unprecedented during the past millennium.

Explaining the changes evident in the climate system

As it became clearer in the 1980s that the world was warming, a question that was asked with increasing frequency was how much, if any, of the warming was a consequence of human activity? CRU had made an important contribution to the posing of that question, so was in an excellent position to address it. The UK Government became a strong supporter of climate research in the mid-1980s, following a meeting between Prime Minister Mrs Thatcher and a small number of senior climate researchers, which included Tom Wigley, the CRU director at the time. This and other meetings eventually led to the setting up of the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, within the Met Office. At the same time, other governments were also taking notice and wanted more information. As this need was not being met by existing international scientific bodies and institutions , the United Nations set up the Intergovernmental Panel on Climatic Change (IPCC), which undertook major assessments of climate science that were published in 1990, 1995, 2001 and 2007.  The first assessment was the basis for negotiating the United Nations Framework Convention on Climatic change (UNFCCC), and the IPCC has remained the most important source of scientific information for the Convention. CRU staff have been heavily involved (probably more than anywhere else relative to the size of an institution) in all four completed assessments as well as the fifth assessment that is currently in progress. The most recent IPCC assessment report (in 2007) concluded that "The warming of the climate system is unequivocal".

In the late 1980s, CRU started to explore the pattern correlation "fingerprint" method of detection, a technique to assess how the observed pattern of climatic change matches that which can be attributed to particular causes. This work culminated in 1995, when a team of researchers from American institutes and from CRU, using computer simulations of climatic change caused by increasing emissions of carbon dioxide - the most important anthropogenic greenhouse gas - and sulphate aerosols, was able to detect the effects of these climate forcing factors in the climate observations. This was a significant progression beyond the consensus view expressed by the IPCC in 1990, when it was considered that the effect of increased carbon dioxide concentrations could not yet be identified in the observed temperature record. This work played a critical role in the conclusion reached by the 1995 assessment of the IPCC, that:

The balance of evidence suggests that there has been a discernible human influence on global climate". Subsequent IPCC reports have strengthened these statements (in 2001: "there is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities" and in 2007: "most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.

It also led most governments, industries, multi-national companies and the majority of the public to accept that the climate is warming, and humans are part of the cause.

Towards climate scenario development

CRU has also played a major role in efforts to predict future anthropogenic climatic change, and some of its consequences. In the late 1970s, rapid advances were being made elsewhere in atmospheric climate modelling (using Global Climate Models, GCMs), but it would be many years before these could be coupled to ocean GCMs. CRU pioneered simpler models (Energy Balance Models, EBMs) and, unlike the computer-intensive GCMs, they allowed the consideration of the consequences of a wider range of future emission scenarios and an assessment of the uncertainties due to parameters such as the climate sensitivity. Even though the GCMs have now improved in scope and speed, these simpler models are still valuable for interpolating between, or extrapolating beyond, the results of GCMs. CRU's work with these models led directly to the global-mean temperature projections given by the IPCC in 1990 and later assessments, and to corresponding projections of sea-level rise.

In 1992, CRU conducted a comprehensive integrated assessment of the climate projection problem, linking an EBM (now called MAGICC) and ice-melt models with models for translating greenhouse gas emissions to atmospheric concentrations and sulphur dioxide emissions that could be used to drive MAGICC. This work by CRU was the first attempt to consider the full spectrum of anthropogenic influences on climate in an internally consistent way. This methodology has improved, but the same basic approach is still valid and remains a vital tool used by the IPCC in the construction of future climate projections, as it is able to cover a much wider range of the uncertainties in greenhouse gas and aerosol scenarios than the more computationally expensive GCMs.

The dramatic increases in computer power over the last 30 years have mainly been used to increase the spatial and vertical resolution of GCMs and to simulate many more aspects of the climate system (e.g., ENSO, extratropical cyclones, interactive atmospheric chemistry, interactive biosphere, runoff routing). Earth System Models or Global Environmental Models (as the more complex GCMs now tend to be called) require the largest and fastest computers in the world. These resources are best allocated to improving the comprehensiveness of the models, as opposed to running extensive scenario combinations for IPCC reports every few years. MAGICC and other similar developments around the world therefore continue to fill an important niche.

Regional climate scenario development and provision

CRU researchers have also pioneered several approaches to the construction of regional climatic change scenarios which have and continue to be used in climate impact assessments, environmental planning and climate policy debates. These approaches included some of the first analogue scenarios and the development of techniques for linking results from simple and complex climate models. In the 1990s, CRU incorporated model-based scenarios into integrated assessments of climatic change undertaken for the UK, European and US governments. This work has led to the creation of several scenario software applications which are widely used by the research communities. This scenario work has also been incorporated into IPCC reports.

Much climate scenario work is dependent on translating the broad-scale climate information produced by GCMs and their regional counterparts (RCMs) to a space- or time-scale which is of relevance for impact assessment (e.g., catchment or station scale and day-to-day weather). CRU pioneered some of the first work on this crucial issue of "downscaling", applying both statistical (using observed relationships between the different space- and time-scales) and dynamical (directly through RCMs) approaches, and was among the first to thoroughly compare the two approaches. Scenarios are becoming more and more detailed, and attempt to incorporate all aspects of uncertainty (emissions, model parameterization, etc.) including different modelling frameworks (also called structural uncertainty). The next-generation scenarios are moving towards probabilistic estimates of a range of future changes. The UK is leading the way in these endeavours, but more comprehensive education of the impacts community in the use and interpretation of probability-based information is required. CRU is taking the lead here with probability-based projections based on adapting weather generators to provide daily and hourly data within the latest set of UK national scenarios (UKCP09 http://ukclimateprojections.defra.gov.uk/), which were released in the summer of 2009. They have formed the basis of the first National UK Climatic Change Risk Assessment which was released in January 2012.  As these types of probabilistic scenarios are expensive to develop, it is likely that they will not be extensively updated for many years, with interim work assessing whether they are still compatible with newer GCM and RCM simulations.

Climatic change mitigation and adaptation

Work on the development and application of regional climate change projections has become gradually more extensive to support the discussion of mitigation and adaptation options. This moved the agenda from the scientific determination of the global warming issue to how to respond to the problem. In the late 1990s, the UK Research Councils recognized the need for a centre to address these issues. CRU, ENV and other groups across the UK were successful with their bid, and the Tyndall Centre for Climatic Change Research was born in 2000. CRU and the Tyndall Centre work together on some projects, but their specific aims and agendas are different. The Tyndall Centre focuses on solutions to the problem of climatic change, while CRU continues to work on all aspects of climate science. The growing practical applicability of CRU work is nonetheless reflected in the increasing range of academic users, stakeholders, decision makers and professional bodies with which CRU is involved, as well as the range of impacts sectors covered. The latter include agriculture, water, health, energy and, most recently, the built environment. These aspects of CRU work in the UK are also facilitated by strong links with the UK Climate Impacts Programme (UKCIP), set up in 1997 and based at the University of Oxford.

In 1992, CRU established the Climate Impacts LINK Project and continued to play a key project role for the next 15 years. The purpose of the LINK Project was to disseminate the results of climate simulations and future climate projections from the Hadley Centre's computer models to research groups in the UK and overseas, who are concerned with attempting to assess the impacts of climatic change. The LINK project was instrumental in developing the capacity of the climate impacts community to make quantitative assessments of the possible impacts of climatic change throughout this period. This was done by raising awareness of the nature of the projections, the appropriate ways in which they should be applied, and constructing a set of standard climate data sets that could be used as input to the many impact assessments that have been undertaken. This helped to make the results of different impact assessments more comparable.  An early measure of the success of the LINK project in making consistent sets of past and future climate information available to non-climate experts, together with appropriate education and advice, was that the majority of studies up to about 2000 addressing impacts of climatic change around the world used data from Hadley Centre climate models. The LINK project became the mould for data dissemination from other climate modelling centres and it eventually led to the establishment by the IPCC of the Data Distribution Centre (DDC), now led by the British Atmospheric Data Centre (BADC).

Climate services and applications

A main thrust of the Unit's research programme since the early 1980s has, as outlined above, been global warming: the human contribution, the future climate response, and possible impacts of future climatic change, with an increasing emphasis on adaptation to these impacts. Most recently, CRU has been involved in European and Global activities relating to the development of climate services. Following recommendations from the third World Climate Conference (WCC-3) held in 2009, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) will launch a Global Framework for Climate Services in late 2012. But this focus was not to the exclusion of other research, much of it of commercial relevance. A few examples follow.

From the late 1970s through to the collapse of oil prices in the late 1980s, CRU received a series of contracts from BP to provide data and advice concerning their exploration operations in the Arctic marginal seas. Working closely with BP's Cold Regions Group, CRU staff developed a set of detailed sea-ice atlases, covering estimates of data quality and climate variability as well as standard climatological means, and a series of reports on specific issues, such as navigation capabilities through the Canadian Archipelago. Assessment of the wind energy resource over the UK led to the development of predictive schemes to assess the potential power production at candidate wind turbine sites. Research on predicting canopy wetness as a vector for disease in cocoa plantations has been of special interest to Brazilian cocoa producers. Advice from CRU has been sought on far-future climate states in relation to the long-term safety of low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste storage sites. On shorter-term timescales, work on extreme events with implications for nuclear power station operation has been undertaken. Perhaps, not surprisingly, the insurance and re-insurance industries have been a regular sponsor of research with early studies evaluating the risk of hurricane landfall on the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the US, the impacts of severe storms in Europe and the characteristic of the typhoon risk over Japan. Many other private, governmental and non-governmental bodies (ranging from the Central Electricity Generating Board and National Power to Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace) have turned to CRU for reliable scientific insight into climatic change, acid rain, wind energy, and surface ozone.

Returning to the beginning, Hubert Lamb's work during the early 1970s on historic North Sea storm surges contributed in no small part to the implementation of plans for a flood barrier on the River Thames, drawn up after the disastrous East Coast floods of 1953. The number of times the Thames Barrier has been closed since its completion - increasingly so in recent years because, as Lamb predicted, sea level has risen - testifies to the value of this research. Hubert Lamb's other ground-breaking research (much of it summarised in the two volumes of his landmark book Climate: Present, Past and Future, which appeared during the 1970s) is still widely cited in science articles today.

Climatic Research Unit email controversy

This history would not be complete without mention of the events that took place in November 2009. CRU had a server that backed up files from researchers' PCs, including many emails and documents and some data. During 2009 this back-up server was hacked into and some or all of its contents copied. A small part of this hacked material was released and rapidly generated intense discussion, criticism and furore across many blogs and the mainstream media worldwide (further material, probably from the original hacking, was released two years later but received much less interest and no further controversy). The 2009 release occurred in the run up to the Copenhagen Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC, and some commentators argued that it was a deliberate attempt to unsettle these negotiations.

The main criticisms were directed at the quality of our science (particularly our work on the instrumental temperature record and proxy/tree-ring-based reconstructions of past temperatures), our approach to the peer-review of science, our contributions to the IPCC assessments, and our sharing of data and information (including via the UK's recently introduced Freedom of Information legislation).

UEA was quick to set up two independent inquiries and related investigations were initiated by the House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology and other bodies in the USA. The main outcome of these inquiries was that CRU's scientific work, peer-review and IPCC work was beyond reproach:

  • "the scientific reputation of Professor Jones and CRU remains intact" (House of Commons Science and Technology Committee)
  • "we saw no evidence of any deliberate scientific malpractice in any of the work of the Climatic Research Unit" (Lord Oxburgh Science Assessment Panel)
  • "their rigour and honesty as scientists are not in doubt" (Sir Muir Russell Independent Climatic change Emails Review)

They did find that CRU could have been more open when dealing with some requests for data and some Freedom of Information requests. CRU already made much of our data holdings freely available. In the first two months after the hacked email controversy began, we released most of the underlying station temperature data used in the construction of the global temperature record jointly with the Met Office Hadley Centre. We then jointly continued our efforts to obtain permission from the originating National Meteorological Services to release the remainder, and in July 2011 almost all the station data (the only exceptions were a few stations in Poland) were made available. The station data for the new CRUTEM4 dataset were made available when the paper was published in spring 2012, and the paper provided numerous links to websites and reports to document the sources of the station temperature data that we used.

One of the reviews (by Sir Muir-Russell) made many recommendations, one of which was:

"We note that much of the challenge to CRU's work has not always followed the conventional scientific method of checking and seeking to falsify conclusions or offering alternative hypotheses for peer review and publication. We believe this is necessary if science is to move on, and we hope that all those involved on all sides of the climate science debate will adopt this approach."

Thus, like much of our earlier work from 1972 onwards, CRU is again at the forefront of climate science: however this time we are learning how to deal with a large and vocal web community, and communicating the importance of peer review and of following the norms of scientific publication has presented an extra challenge.

CRU today

Today (July 2012), CRU is still dependent upon research grant income to maintain the size and breadth of our research and student communities. The European Commission of the European Union (EU) provides the largest fraction of our research income under the Environment and Climatic change Programme. Since the mid-1990s, CRU has co-ordinated 7 EU research projects and been a partner on 23 others within the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th Framework Programmes. Although EU funding is very important, we also endeavour to maintain the diverse pattern of funding reflected by the research described in this "history of CRU" and in the list of Acknowledgements below.

Since its inception in 1972,  65 students have been awarded PhD degrees. Today, CRU has a postgraduate research student community of 5 PhD students (July 2012). CRU also runs a NERC-recognized Master of Science degree programme on Climatic change. About 10 years ago, this degree attracted between 6 and 10 students per year, but the last few academic years have seen an upsurge to between 15 and 20 students per year. Altogether, almost 200 students have completed their MSc degrees. This is a strong endorsement of the growing importance of the subject and of our reputation.

A number of CRU staff have been awarded medals, certificates or fellowships from the Royal Meteorological Society, the European Geosciences Union, the American Meteorological Society, the American Geophysical Union and the Leverhulme Trust. Over the last 35 years also, several staff have been on the editorial boards of a number of major climatic journals (International Journal of ClimatologyClimatic ChangeWeatherAtmospheric Science LettersJournal of ClimateThe HoloceneBoreasClimate ResearchTheoretical and Applied Climatology).

A research unit this size doesn't run itself. The directors and research staff over the years have been supported by a number of administrative, secretarial and other support staff, although this number has fallen in the last decade due to changes in working practices, organization and information technology. CRU has made extensive use of information technology, whether pushing the limits of university computer processing and data storage, or establishing a website soon after the birth of the world-wide-web that grew into one of the most popular sources of climate research and data.

Acknowledgements

This list is not fully exhaustive, but we would like to acknowledge the support of the following funders (in alphabetical order):

British Council, British Petroleum, Broom's Barn Sugar Beet Research Centre, Central Electricity Generating Board, Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN), Commercial Union, Commission of European Communities (CEC, often referred to now as EU), Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils (CCLRC), Department of Energy, Department of the Environment (DoE, 1970-1997), Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR, 1997-2001), Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA, 2001-present), Department of Energy and Climatic Change (DECC), Department of Health, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Earth and Life Sciences Alliance, Eastern Electricity, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Environment Agency, Forestry Commission, Greater London Authority, Greenpeace International, International Institute of Environmental Development (IIED), Irish Electricity Supply Board, KFA Germany, Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), Leverhulme Trust, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF), National Assembly for Wales, National Power, National Rivers Authority, Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC), Norwich Union, Nuclear Installations Inspectorate, Overseas Development Administration (ODA), Reinsurance Underwriters and Syndicates, Royal Society, Scientific Consultants, Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC), Scottish and Northern Ireland Forum for Environmental Research, Shell, SQW Consulting, Stockholm Environment Agency, Sultanate of Oman, Tate and Lyle, Tyndall Centre, UK Met. Office, UK Nirex Ltd., UK Water Industry Research (UKWIR), United Nations Environment Plan (UNEP), United States Department of Energy, United States Environmental Protection Agency, Wolfson Foundation and the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF).

References

Jones, P.D., Jónsson, T. and Wheeler, D., 1997:  Extension to the North Atlantic Oscillation using early instrumental pressure observations from Gibraltar and SW Iceland.  International Journal of Climatology 17, 1433-1450.

Jones, P.D., Lister, D.H., Osborn, T.J., Harpham, C., Salmon, M., Morice, C.P. 2012: Hemispheric and large-scale land surface air temperature variations: An extensive revision and an update to 2010. J. Geophys. Res. 117, D05127, doi:10.1029/2011JD017139.

Morice, C.P., Kennedy, J.J., Rayner, N.A. and Jones, P.D., 2012: Quantifying uncertainties in global and regional temperature change using an ensemble of observational estimates: the HadCRUT4 dataset. Journal of Geophysical Research, 117, D08101, doi:10.1029/2011JD017187.

Hubert Lamb

Founder and first Director (1971-1977) of the Climatic Research Unit

In 1959 Hubert Lamb wrote, 'Not so very long ago – between the wars in fact – climate was widely considered as something static, except on the geological scale, and authoritative works on the climates of various regions were written without the allusion to the possibility of change...' 1

In 2006, the EurekaUK report cited Hubert's work in 'establishing the study of climate change as a serious research subject', among the 100 world-changing discoveries, innovations and research projects to come out of the UK universities in the last 50 years.

Read a biography of Hubert Lamb

 

Early life

Hubert Lamb was born on 22 September 1913.  In his autobiography, 'Through all the Changing Scenes of Life', he recalls the 'spare the rod and spoil the child' attitudes that prevailed both at home and at his public school, Oundle, and declares that this strict upbringing made him sceptical of most authorities. However, through the network of family connections he gained an early interest in polar exploration and meteorology. He describes the long frost in February-March 1929:

'Most days were cloudless. The thin covering of snow, that had come on 10-11 February, as the frost began, mostly disappeared by evaporation. And the ice on the meadows was entirely safe [for skating] because the floods soon froze to the bottom.... The fun came to an end with one brilliant Sunday in mid-March... The air temperature measured in the shade that day rose to 70°F (21°C), but the ice had been maintained by sharp frosts every night.' 2

Rejecting mathematics favoured by his father, Hubert read natural sciences, and later geography, at Trinity College, Cambridge, obtaining what his father described as 'a mediocre, mixed degree which he would regret all his life'. He took an interest in politics at Cambridge, attending talks at both the Conservative and Socialist societies. He was not attracted to these clubs committed to the political left or right, but rather to, 'politics with a social democratic and liberal flavour and in religion understood through Scottish Presbyterian and Quaker ideas and practices'. 2

Perhaps influenced by Quaker friends at Cambridge, and by the mathematician and meteorologist, Lewis Fry Richardson, whom he had known in childhood, Hubert adopted Quaker philosophy soon after graduating.

In his autobiography, Hubert describes with obvious pleasure the walking and climbing holidays in the Alps, and especially in Norway, which he undertook alone and with friends during his undergraduate years, and in what he describes as the 'dead end' year after Cambridge.

In September 1936, whilst in Oslo, he learned that he had been accepted as a trainee Technical Officer in the United Kingdom Meteorological Office, a post for which he had applied after realizing that his modern language skills would never be adequate for the Consular Service, the career of choice of his father. However, an interest in the history and use of language would remain with him throughout his life. His most fluent spoken language after English was Norwegian.

Work at the Meteorological Office

Hubert's early work at the Met Office, based at the old Croydon Airport, had a very practical application – preparation for opening the first commercial passenger air services across the North Atlantic:

'From our measurements of barometric pressure gradients we were able to tabulate the likely times needed, day by day, by the aircraft of that period to cross the ocean between Europe and North America in either direction. From this tabulation the routes that would be feasible at different times of the year could be decided and likely flight schedules envisaged.' 2

His next posting was to Montrose to study the haars or sudden fogs which came in from the sea on the east coast of Scotland, and made flying difficult for the Royal Air Force. Hubert soon linked the haars to the development of the daytime sea breeze. Occasionally a fog would occur which could not be explained by the observations at Montrose:

'Soon I was airborne, and by the time we reached a height of just a few thousand feet the solution to the puzzle was obvious. From that height, the air which is habitually clear over eastern Scotland revealed a great smoke trail, starting up as a low, wedge-shaped gathering of pollution from the myriads of domestic house-fires and industrial chimneys in the densely populated belt in the region of Glasgow, Edinburgh and other lowland towns...  It was being carried by a general west wind through the Clyde-Forth valley out on to the North Sea.' 2

His report, 'Haars, or North Sea fogs, on the coast of Great Britain' was well received, but then classified as 'secret' in view of its value in forecasting for military flights. Hubert's autobiography contains many anecdotes of his time in Montrose, which he describes as 'one of the happiest periods of my life' 2.

A tour by ship of the coastline of Iceland and meetings with Icelandic meteorologists in 1938 was followed by a crisis of conscience in June 1939. Upon being instructed to attend a practice exercise in poison gas spraying at an RAF airfield in England, he writes in his autobiography, 'This was something I clearly was not willing to allow my meteorology to be used for' 2. His resigned from the Met Office, but was persuaded to accept secondment to the Irish Meteorological Service to resume work on the forthcoming Trans-Atlantic civil passenger air route.  He writes:

'The forecasting job for the pioneer Trans-Atlantic flights was an extremely responsible one... Most important of all was the pre-flight forecast discussion, the briefing... It was an exercise in honesty and complete openness about how much and how little of the expected development of the weather situation over the ocean and destination one could actually be sure of.' 2

Despite having to rely mainly on information from flight crews in the absence of access to observations, he and his colleagues achieved an accident-free record throughout the war.

Even at Foynes in the west of Ireland Hubert was conscious of the severe winters of 1939-40, 1940-41 and 1941-42 which affected most of Europe, in marked contrast to the predominance of mild winters during the previous 40 years.

During his five and a half years in Ireland he became aware, too, of the tragic history of the potato famine in the 1840s, a matter to which he would later turn his attention in his book, 'Climate, History and the Modern World'.

Nansen's account of his ‘First crossing of Greenland' in 1888 had been one of  Hubert's favourite books as a child, but his early interest in polar exploration was rewarded after his return to the Meteorological Office in 1946 not by a visit to Greenland but by a posting as meteorological adviser on a Norwegian whaling factory ship to Antarctica. Whales had been overexploited in the years before the Second World War, and despite conscientious scruples about whaling he joined the expedition, whose remit included spotting whales from the air. He took the works of Amundsen, Scott and Shackleton with him. He was quite at home aboard the Balaena, with its predominantly Norwegian speaking crew. Hubert recounts the difficulties of setting up a rain gauge aboard ship in latitudes where most of the precipitation was snowfall:

‘The great factory ship constituted such an obstacle to the free flow of the wind over the ocean surface that one could actually watch the snow moving upward as the wind itself was forced upward in passing over the ship. Any measured snowfall caught in the gauge… could not be properly representative of what was falling in the area. I never solved this…' 2

Nonetheless, in spite of the difficulties with radio communications and the scepticism of some of the crew, Hubert's weather charts became increasingly effective in predicting the greatest hazard to whaling in the southern high latitudes – the strength of the wind. He notes particularly the lack of knowledge of the intertropical front, or convergence zone, in the southern hemisphere at that time.  Fundamentals of atmospheric circulation were to become an important aspect of his later research.  Lessons were learned, too, from the sequence of daily maps which he drew on the expedition: not least that the south polar anticyclone was not a feature present in every day's weather situation, and pressure levels were really always low in comparison with the northern hemisphere.

Upon returning to Cambridge in mid May 1947, he noted the floods in the fenland that followed the spring thaw that year, after the unusually heavy snowfalls of the preceding winter. 

On 7 February 1948 Hubert married Moira Milligan in the old parish church of Corstophine, Edinburgh, where Moira's father had previously been minister. They shared an enthusiasm for hill walking, and Moira had also travelled in Norway. Hubert writes:

‘She had the serious, as well as the happy laughing side to her nature… This, then, was the start of our long, and almost unbelievably happy, life together.' 2

The late1940s brought a period when Hubert realized that he had a contribution to make to research meteorology. Urged by Gordon Manley, he presented a scientific paper on the alimentation of the Antarctic ice cap, based upon his whaling observations and daily weather maps. He showed that ordinary cyclonic storms from the ocean did at times invade the Antarctic continent.

Formalization of his work on Climatology

His 1950 paper, ‘Types and spells of weather around the year in the British Isles' presented a subjective classification of the atmospheric circulation of the British isles, with each day's weather conforming to one of 27 types based upon the general synoptic pattern. The Lamb Weather Type Classification has been adapted and modified subsequently, but it remains one of Hubert's lasting contributions to meteorology, and gave an impetus to climatological research.

Whilst still awaiting training as a climatologist, in the best tradition of the British Civil Service, Hubert was put in charge of overseas climate enquiries. When dealing with the practical questions put to him, he discovered that with the short runs of observations that he had to work from, predictions using standard statistical methods often fell short of what was seen in reality. He became alerted to the problems created by climate change and variability.

Fortuitously, he was given access to what at that time was probably the world's richest resource of past meteorological observations from Britain and across the old British Empire. Historical data in the UK Meteorological Office archives made it possible to reconstruct monthly barometric pressure maps for the North Atlantic and Europe back as far as 1750. What emerged were changes in the atmospheric pressure and wind patterns from year to year and, even when averaged over many years, notable changes in atmospheric movement from the Atlantic Ocean over Europe. He was beginning to identify changes that might be significant not just geologically but at time scales important to humankind. He also started to make the first connections between sea-surface temperatures and atmospheric circulation.

At this stage in his career, his ‘mongrel' degree began to show its worth: he started to develop contacts in other fields of science, firstly with the Cambridge University Botany School. Studies of past pollen deposits in the soil and subsoil, in peat, and in old lake-bed and ocean-bed deposits showed evidence of former climates that differed from the present. The year layers or 'varves' from Swedish lake-bed deposits extended climate history back to the beginning of the last ice age. Rather more certainty was added to the time scale with the introduction of radiocarbon dating in the early 1950s. Ancient forests in areas where trees no longer grew, and other changes in flora and fauna supplemented the accumulating evidence of changes in prevailing summer and winter temperatures, and ocean temperatures too. 

These findings led him to human archaeology as well, and gave impetus to research by other scientists: Why did the Minoan civilization fall – did the eruption of the island of Thera play a part?  Is the discontinuity in Greek civilization between the 12th and 8th centuries BC, previously attributed to displacement through human migration, explicable through natural causes? Could climatic change have played a part in the apparent disappearance of the Mycenaeans?

'As my thinking on the causes of climate change developed – beyond the explanatory and unifying insights gained from the atmospheric and circulation mechanism on which I had so far largely concentrated – I was increasingly driven to attempt a thorough assessment of the effects of volcanic explosions and their products in the atmosphere. The first step was to build up an adequate data basis.' 2

This painstaking work, using scientific reports from the well-documented eruption of Krakatoa in 1883, and also from Iceland, the Mediterranean, Alaska, Greenland, Kamchatka, and elsewhere, led to his thesis which developed an assessment of the world's volcanic eruptions since 1500. His paper, 'Volcanic dust in the atmosphere... A chronology and assessment of its meteorological significance', was published by the Royal Society in 1970. And with its publication, the Lamb Dust Veil Index entered the scientific literature.

My investigations had shown that beyond reasonable doubt that great volcanic eruptions do affect the weather and climate for several years afterwards, while suspended materials – not only the fine dust, but minute droplets and even gases – thrown up into the atmosphere by the blast are still present. 2

The study showed that it was the greatest explosions in the low latitudes between about 30°N and 30°S that most regularly yield products that spread around the world, and that the most regular effect of such eruptions was a weakening of the strength of the global circulation. Whereas an eruption in the middle and high latitudes tended to strengthen the circulation in that hemisphere.

Hubert recognised, too, that further research was needed into the greenhouse effect, but he didn't abandon an interest in the effects of solar disturbance and its relationship to climatic variations.

In the meantime, the Meteorological Office had moved to Bracknell in 1961, and in 1963 Hubert was awarded a special merit promotion mainly for his work in Antarctica. A talk on BBC radio in 1960 indirectly led to two books: 'The English Climate' (a new edition of C.E.P Brook's book) in 1964, and 'The Changing Climate' (a selection of Hubert's published papers) in 1966.

The application of mathematical techniques and computer modelling to climate history had established the time-scale of glacials and interglacials in recent earth history, and these led Hubert to develop early theories about a Medieval Warm Period and a Little Ice Age. He published his ideas in 1965 in a paper entitled, 'The medieval warm epoch and its sequel'. He predicted a modest cold, more or less glacial, climate in four to seven thousand years, but later research caused him to change his opinion.

The Establishment of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU)

The Meteorological Office promotion gave him greater scope to pursue his interest in historical climate change, but by the late 1960's Hubert felt that a university might offer a better opportunity to concentrate on his research. He considered an offer to succeed Gordon Manley at Lancaster University, but a chance meeting led him ultimately to the new School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia in Norwich. He launched the Climatic Research Unit there in 1971-72.  He writes:

'Climate was still generally taken for granted, and treated as, for practical purposes, constant, whatever its short-term vagaries might be.' 2

Whilst he was aware that the big swings in recent climate history may be well enough understood, it was clear that there was no comparable understanding of the causes of shorter-term changes of climate which might have been sharp enough to have had drastic effects in history.

'When the Climatic Research Unit was founded, it was clear that the greatest need was to establish the facts of the past record of the natural climate in times before any side effects of human activities could well be important.' 2

Funding difficulties in the early years of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) were alleviated with generous grants from the Rockefeller Foundation in New York, and from the Wolfson Foundation in the United Kingdom which later provided a purpose-built building for the CRU.

As the reputation of the CRU grew, so did offers of meteorological data from a variety of sources, including instrumental records from other countries' weather services, neglected archives, ships' logs, chronicles of weather events, and diaries. After overcoming the contradictions derived from the variety of dating and measuring techniques employed by often small European states, mapping was the principal technique employed to represent these data.

Using the logs of the ships which sailed against England with the Spanish Armada collected by an enthusiast in Northern Ireland, when then compared with the day book of the 16th century Danish scientist/astonomer, Tycho Brahe, Hubert and his collaborators where able to map the weather conditions on an almost day-by-day basis for half of 1588, including the storm which swept the remains of the Armada poleward through the North Sea. 

In 1991, Hubert and Knud Frydendahl published, 'Historic Storms of the North Sea, British Isles and Northwest Europe'. This collaboration was an attempt to understand the historic storminess of the North Sea, and the often devastating consequences on low-lying North Sea coasts.

Understanding the natural environment, the conservation of natural resources, and the impact of changing climate on human populations were among the guiding principles which Hubert established for the CRU. The shifting pattern of rain belts in Africa causing drought and suffering in the Sahel with famines in Ethiopia, Eritrea and Sudan particularly, led to investigations of the Humboldt Current, El Nino and its effects upon the Peruvian anchovy fisheries, and a greater awareness of the importance of ocean currents in the functioning of global climate.

'All these interwoven climatic developments are of great concern to humanity, especially in low latitudes...' 2

The week-long conference on Climate and History, arranged by the CRU in July 1979, did much to establish the reputation of the Unit. The proceedings were published by the Cambridge University Press as a 500-page book. 

Hubert's main interest lay in the historical reconstruction of past climate and weather situations, and while Director of the Climatic Research Unit he completed his two volume account, 'Climate: Present, Past and Future', which appeared in 1972 and 1977, and was republished in 2012. A later director of the CRU described it as 'a triumph of scientific synthesis and interpretation.' 3

Legacy

Hubert retired as Director in 1977. He did more than any other scientist of his generation to make the academic community aware of climate change. However, in the years after his retirement the emphasis of research shifted towards evaluating the role played by human activities. He was well acquainted with the pioneering works of Svante Arrhenius in Sweden, and G.S. Callendar in England, and wrote in 1997 that, 'it is now widely thought that the undoubted warming of the world climate in the twentieth century is attributable to the increased concentration in the atmosphere of so-called greenhouse gases' 2. However, he always referred back to the instrumental record, and his attitude to greenhouse warming remained guarded. 

In retirement, as emeritus professor at the University of East Anglia, he maintained his close association the CRU, and continued to follow his own interest in climate and social history and, 'its implications for war and peace and human welfare.' 2

Hubert died on 28 June 1997.

In 2006 the Climatic Research Unit building was renamed the Hubert Lamb Building in his honour, in the presence of his wife, Moira. In 2012, Moira was welcomed to the 40th Anniversary dinner of the Climatic Research Unit, along with one of their two daughters and their son.

Among the many awards which Hubert received for his research were the Murchison Award of the Royal Geographical Society, the Symons Gold Medal of the Royal Meteorological Society, and the Gold Medal of the Swedish Geographical Society.

1 H.H. Lamb, Weather, October 1959, Vol14, pp 299-318.
2 Hubert Lamb, Through all the Changing Scenes of Life: A Meteorologists Tale, Taverner Publications, 1997. 
3 Professor Trevor Davies in the Dictionary of National Biography

Books in print

Publications

  • Lamb, H.H. 1995. Climate, History and the Modern World. (2nd Edition). 433pp Routledge, 11 New Fetter Lane, London EC4P 4EE. (keywords: climate change historical impacts)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1991. Historic Storms of the North Sea, British Isles and Northwest Europe. 204pp Cambridge University Press. (keywords: UK Europe storms regional oceanography book historical records)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1991. British Isles daily wind and weather patterns 1588, 1781-86, 1972-91 and shorter early sequences (in 1532, 1570 and others years, notably 1688, 1689, 1694, 1697, 1703, 1717, 1783-4, 1791, 1792, 1795, 1822, 1825, 1829, 1845, 1846, 1849, 1850, 1854-5. Climate Monitor 20, 47-70 Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia, Norwich, U.K. (keywords: UK Europe daily wind meteorological observations historical records instrumental)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1988. Weather, Climate and Human Affairs. Routledge, London, 364pp Routledge, London. (keywords: climate change impacts socio agriculture book meteorology health)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1987. What can historical records tell us about the breakdown of the medieval warm climate in Europe in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries - an experiment. Atmospheric Physics 60, 131-143 (keywords: historical climate change Europe records)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1986. The history of climatology and the effects of climatic variations on human history. Weather 41, 16-20 (keywords: historical climate change impacts)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1986. The origin of the extensive ice-floes in the English Channel in February 1984. Journal of Meteorology 11, 123-125 (keywords: sea ice historical)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1985. 'Torro' - and the importance of independent meteorological research. Journal of Meteorology 10, 180-181 (keywords: meteorology methodology)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1985. Climate and its variability in the North Sea-northeast Atlantic region. In: The North Sea - a Highway of Economic and Cultural Exchange (Eds. A. Bang-Andersen, B. Greenhill and E.H. Grude), pp.27-38 Norwegian University Press. (keywords: climate change Europe NH regional North Sea Atlantic Europe)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1985. Climate and landscape in the British Isles. In: The English Landscape, Past, Present and Future (Ed. S.R.J. Woodell), pp.148-167 Oxford University Press. (keywords: climate change UK historical)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1985. The reconstruction of past climate.
  • Lamb, H.H. 1985. The reconstruction of past climate during the historical period.  Ymer: Himmel och Jord 105, 91-102 (keywords: reconstruction climate change historical)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1984. Climate and history in northern Europe and elsewhere. In: Climatic Changes on a Yearly to Millenial Basis (Eds. N.-A. Morner and W. Karlen), pp.225-240 Reidel. (R) (keywords: climate change historical Europe global)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1984. Some studies of the Little Ice Age of recent centuries and its great storms." In: Climatic Changes on a Yearly to Millenial Basis (Eds. N.-A. Morner and W. Karlen), pp.309-329 Reidel. (keywords: historical storms LIA)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1984. The future of the Earth - greenhouse or refrigerator? Journal of Meteorology 9, 237-242 (keywords: impacts forecasting greenhouse)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1983. Climate. In: Britain's Heritage Atlas (Ed. J.J. Norwich), pp.14-15 Granada. (keywords: climate historical UK)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1982. Climate, History and the Modern World. 387pp Methuen, London. (keywords: climate change historical impacts book)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1982. Climate changes in our own times and future threats. Geography 67, 203-220 (R) (keywords: climate change historical global impacts forecasting)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1982. Reconstruction of the course of past climate over the world. In: Climatic Change in Later Prehistory (Ed. A.F. Harding), pp.11-32 Edinburgh University Press. (R) (keywords: reconstruction global climate change historical)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1982. The climatic environment of the Arctic Ocean. In: The Arctic Ocean: Hydrographic Environment and the Fate of Pollutants (Ed. L. Rey), pp.135-161 Macmillan, London, for Comite Arctique Internationale, Monaco. (R) (keywords: climate change Arctic oceans pollution)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1982. The development of climate and its relevance to human affairs. Proc. Royal Institution, London 54, pp.65-95 (R) (keywords: climate change impacts historical social agriculture industry human)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1981. An approach to the study of the development of climate and its impact on human affairs. In: Climate and History: Studies of Past Climates and their Impact on Man (Eds. T.M.L. Wigley, M.J. Ingram and G. Farmer), pp.291-309 Cambridge University Press. (R) (keywords: climate change impacts human social agriculture industry political met hodology)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1981. Climate from 1000 BC to 1000 AD. In: The Environment of Man: the Iron Age to the Anglo-Saxon Period (Eds. M. Jones and G. Dimbleby), pp.53-65 British Archaeological Reports British Series, 87, Oxford. (R) (keywords: climate change historical reconstruction)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1981. Climatic changes and food production: observations and outlook in the modern world. Geojournal 5, 101-112 (R) (keywords: climate change agriculture industry observations political forecasting impacts )
  • Lamb, H.H. 1981. Effects of climatic change on the people of Europe in the past. In: Climatic Change and European Agriculture (Eds. S.W. Burrage and M.V.K. Carr), pp.1-16 Wye College, Centre for European Agricultural Studies. (keywords: climate change human social agriculture political historical records r econstruction)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1981. Some aspects of the cold, disturbed climate of recent centuries, the 'Little Ice Age' and similar occurrences. In: Weather and Weather Maps (Ed. G.H. Liljeqvist), pp.629-639 Birkhauser Verlag. (R) (keywords: ice climate change LIA historical records reconstruction dendro)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1981. The late Bronze Age climate. In: The Brigg 'Raft' and her Prehistoric Environment (Ed. S. Mc Grail), pp.205-207 British Archaeological Reports Series, 89, Oxford. (R) (keywords: historical climate reconstruction)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1981. The life and work of Professor Gordon Manley. Weather 36, 220-231 (R) (keywords: climatology historical methodology datasets)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1981. The state of the art in climatology: current approaches to scientific understanding. In: Climatic Change and European Agriculture (Eds. S.W. Burrage and M.K.V. Carr) pp.17-22 Wye College, Centre for European Agricultural Studies. (keywords: climatology climate change methodology)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1980. Climatic fluctuations in historical times and their connection with transgressions of the sea, storm floods and other coastal changes. In: Trangressies en Occupatiegeschiedenis in de Kustgelieden va n Nederland en Belgie, Publication No.66 (Eds. A. Verhulst and M.K.E. Gottschalk ), 251-284 Belgisch Centrum vor Landelijke Geschiedenis. (R) (keywords: climate change oceans storms floods)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1980. Weather and climate patterns of the Little Ice Age. In: Das Klima-Analysen und Modelle, Geschichte und Zukunft (Eds . H. Oeschger, B. Messerli and M. Svilar), pp.149-160 Springer-Verlag. (R) (keywords: meteorology climate change LIA)
  • Lamb, H.H. and Ingram, M.J. 1980. Climate and history. Past and Present 88, 136-141 (R) (keywords: climate change historical)
  • Douglas, K.S. and Lamb, H.H. 1979. Weather Observations and a Tentative Meteorological Analysis of the Period May to July 1588. Climatic Research Unit Research Publication 6a (supplement to CRU RP 6), 39pp (keywords: observations meteorology historical records reconstruction)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1979. Climatic variation and changes in the wind and ocean circulation: the Little Ice Age in the northeast Atlantic. Quaternary Research 11, 1-20 (keywords: climate change wind oceans atmospheric circulation LIA Atlantic)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1979. Understanding climate and its fluctuations. Journal of the Norfolk Beekeepers Association 13, 2-6 (keywords: climate change impacts methodology)
  • Lamb, H.H. and Weiss, I. 1979. On recent changes of the wind and wave regime of the North Sea and the outlook. Fachliche Mitteilungen 194. Traben-Trabach (Amt. fur Wehrgeophysik). (keywords: climate change wind oceans North Sea Europe forecasting)
  • Lamb, H.H. (with Gribbin, J.) 1978. Climatic change in historical times. Ch.4 in: Climatic Change (Ed. John Gribbin). Cambridge University Press. (keywords: climate change historical)
  • Lamb, H.H. and Morth, H.T. 1978. Arctic ice, atmospheric circulation and world climate. Geographical Journal 144(1), 1-22 (keywords: Arctic sea ice atmospheric circulation climate change global warming)
  • Douglas, K.S., Lamb, H.H. and Loader, C. 1978. A Meteorological Study of July-October 1588: The Spanish Armada Storms. Climatic Research Unit Research Publication No.6 (CRU RP6), 76pp (R) (keywords: meteorology historical records UK Europe reconstruction methodology)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1978. The variability of climate: observation and understanding. In: Proc. Nordic Symp. on Climatic Changes and Related Problems (Ed. K. Drydendahl), pp.116-144 Danish Met. Inst., Climatological Papers No.4, 260pp, Copenhagen. (keywords: climate change observations detection methodology reconstruction)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1978. Towards an understanding of climatic change: its impact in history and in the modern world. In: Proc. Nordic Symp. on Climatic Changes and Related Problems (Ed. K. Drydendahl), pp.181-204 Danish Met. Inst., Climatological Papers No.4, 260pp, Copenhagen. (keywords: climate change impacts historical)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1977. Climate: Present, Past and Future. Vol. 2: Climatic History and the Future. 837pp Methuen, London. (keywords: climate change historical forecasting book)
  • Lamb, H.H. and Ford, M.J. 1977. The climate of East Anglia. Ch.1.2 in: Nature in Norfolk - a Heritage in Trust, pp.23-28 Jarrold for Norfolk Heritage, Norwich. (keywords: climate change historical regional UK)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1977. Climatic analysis. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. London 280 (series B), 341-350 (keywords: climate change methodology reconstruction)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1977. Supplementary volcanic dust veil index assessments. Climate Monitor 6(2), 57-67 Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK. (keywords: volcanoes datasets reconstruction methodology)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1977. The late Quaternary history of the climate of the British Isles." In: British Quaternary Studies: Recent Advances (Ed. F.W. Shott on), pp.283-298 Clarendon Press, Oxford. (keywords: historical records climate change UK reconstruction)
  • Lamb, H.H. and Morth, H.T. 1977. The weather in 1976 - exceptional to a degree. Development Forum (UNDP), May, p.6 (keywords: meteorology climate change)
  • Lamb, H.H., Morth, H.T. and Jones, P.D. 1977. Climatic events of 1977 - persistence of anomalies. Development Forum. (keywords: climate change)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1976. Long-term climatic variations: symposium at Norwich 18-23 August 1975. WMO Bulletin, January 1976, pp.3-9 (keywords: climate change historical datasets)
  • Kelly, P.M. and Lamb, H.H. 1976. Prediction of volcanic activity and climate. Nature 262, p5. (keywords: forecasting volcanoes climate change impacts)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1976. Climate in the 1970s. Nature 259, 606 (keywords: climate change historical records)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1976. Long-term climatic fluctuations: symposium at Norwich 18-23 August 1975. WMO Bulletin 25(1), 3-9 WMO, Geneva. (keywords: climate change historical records reconstruction)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1976. Understanding climatic change and its relevance to the world food problem. Climatic Research Unit Research Publication 5, 23pp (keywords: climate change agriculture impacts political)
  • Lamb, H.H. and Morth, H.T. 1976. Last year's weather: a climate of extremes. Development Forum 4, p5. (keywords: climate change)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1975. The Earth's changing climate. In: Encyclopaedia Britannica Book of the Year 1975. (keywords: climate change historical global)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1975. Changes of climate: the perspective of time scales and a particular examination of recent changes. In: Ice Ages: Ancient and Modern (Eds. A.E. Wright and F. Mosel ey), pp.169-188 Geol. J. Special Issue No.6. (keywords: climate change historical records methodology observations)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1975. Changes of climate: the perspective of time scales and a particular examination of recent changes. In: Ice Ages: Ancient and Modern (Eds. A.E. Wright and F. Mosel ey), pp.169-188 Seel House Press, Liverpool. (keywords: climate change historical records)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1975. Our understanding of the global wind circulation and climatic variations. Bird Study 22, 121-141 (keywords: wind climate change global)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1975. Remarks on the current climatic trend and its perspective. In: Proc. of the WMO/IAMAP Symp. on Long-term Climatic Fluctuations, Norwich 18-23, August 1975, pp.473-477 (keywords: climate change historical records)
  • Lamb, H.H., Dickson, R.R., Malmberg, S.A. and Colebrook, J.M. 1975. Climatic reversal in the North Atlantic. Nature 256, 497-481 (keywords: climate change Atlantic oceans)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1974. Climate. In: Encyclopaedia Britannica (15th Edn.). (keywords: climate change historical)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1974. Reconstructing the climatic patterns of the historical past. Endeavour 33(118), 40-47 (keywords: reconstruction climate change historical methodology)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1974. Contributions to historical climatology: the Middle Ages and after; Christmas weather and other aspects. Klimatologische Forschung: Flohn Festschrift, Bonner Meteorolog ischer Abhandlungen, Heft 17, 549-567 (keywords: historical records climate change meteorology observations)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1974. Climate, vegetation and forest limits in early civilized times. Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. London A276, 195-230 (keywords: climate agriculture dendro historical records tree rings reconstruction)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1974. Climatic change and foresight in agriculture: the possibilities of long-term weather advice. Outlook on Agriculture 7, 203-210 (keywords: climate change agriculture forecasting)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1974. The Current Trend of World Climate - A Report on the Early 1970s and a Perspective. Climatic Research Unit Research Publication 3. Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK. (keywords: climate change global historical records methodology)
  • Bryson, R.A., Lamb, H.H. and Donley, D.L. 1974. Drought and the decline of Mycenae. Cultural Sensitivity to Environmental Change III: Report 20. Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison. (keywords: drought historical reconstructions)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1973. The seasonal progression of the atmospheric circulation affecting the North Atlantic and Europe. Climatic Research Unit Research PublicationCRU RP1, 131pp Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK. (keywords: atmospheric circulation oceans NH Europe)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1973. Whither climate now? Nature 244, 395-397 (keywords: climate change methodology forecasting)
  • Lamb, H.H. (with P. Collison and R.A.S. Ratcliffe) 1973. Northern hemisphere monthly and annual mean-sea-level pressure distribution for 1951-66, and changes of pressure and temperature compared with those of 1900-1939. Geophys. Memoir No.118. HMSO for Met. Office. (keywords: NH sea level pressure temperature historical datasets statistics)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1973. Is the Earth's climate changing? In: UNESCO Courier, special issue, pp.17-20 (keywords: climate change global detection)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1973. Some comments on atmospheric pressure variations in the Northern Hemisphere (with supplementary note by P.D. Wright). In: Drought in Africa, pp.27-28 School of Oriental and African Studies, University Centre for African Studies, London. (keywords: atmospheric pressure climate change NH)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1973. The effect of climatic anomalies in the oceans on long-term atmospheric circulation behaviour and currents in the North Sea and surrounding regions. In: North Sea Science (NATO North Sea Science Conf., Aviemore, Scotland, 15-20 Nov. 1971) (Ed. E.D. Goldberg), pp.153-182 MIT Press, Cambridge, MA. (keywords: climate change oceans atmospheric circulation North Sea Europe)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1973. The problem of embedding energy into the atmosphere and the present ability of climatology to advise on it. In: Proc. IIASA Planning Conf. Energy Systems, pp.310-328 IIASA, Laxenberg, Austria. (keywords: atmospheric energy climatology)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1972. Climate: Present, Past and Future. Vol. 1: Fundamentals and Climate Now. 613pp Methuen, London. (keywords: climate change historical forecasting methodology book)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1972. British Isles weather types and a register of the daily sequence of circulation patterns 1861-1971. Geophys. Memoir. No.116, 85pp HMSO for Met. Office. (keywords: UK LWTs circulation atmospheric datasets)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1972. Atmospheric circulation and climate in the Arctic since the last ice age. Acta Universitatis... Oulu (Finland), A.3, Geology 1, pp.455-495 (keywords: atmospheric circulation climate change Arctic ice LIA palaeo)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1972. 'Concluding remarks'. Symposium on Climatic Changes in Arctic Areas during the Last 10 000 years, Acta Universitatis...Oulu (Finland), A.3, Geology 1, pp.503-511 (keywords: climate change Arctic historical methodology)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1972. Atmospheric circulation and climate in the Arctic since the last ice age. In: Climatic Changes in Arctic Areas During the Last Ten-thousand Years (Symp. held at Oulanka and Kevo, 4-10 Oct., 1971 (Eds. Y. Vasari, H. Hy yarinen and S. Hicks), pp.455-495 (keywords: atmospheric circulation climate change Arctic historical records meteo rology)
  • Lamb, H.H. and Bromley, R.G. 1972. Cumulus and cumulonimbus clouds in high latitudes: some Greenland pictures. Weather 27(11), 468, 474-475 (keywords: clouds Greenland graphics)
  • Lamb, H.H. and Dickson, R.R. 1972. A review of recent hydrometeorological events in the North Atlantic sector. In: Special Publication No.8, pp.35-62 Internat. Comm. for the North-West Atlantic Fisheries. (keywords: oceans Atlantic hydrology meteorology)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1971. Palaeoclimatology (an editorial). Palaeo 3. Elsevier, Amsterdam (keywords: palaeo climate change historical)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1971. Climates and circulation regimes developed over the northern hemisphere during and since the last ice age. Palaeo10, 125-162 (keywords: climate change atmospheric circulation NH historical records ice LIA)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1971. Palaeoclimatology (Editorial). Palaeogeogr., Palaeoclim., Palaeoecology 10(2/3 special issue), pp.83-86 Elsevier, Amsterdam. (keywords: palaeo climatology historical records)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1971. Volcanic activity and climate. Palaeogeogr., Palaeoclim., Palaeoecology 10(2/3 special issue), pp.203-230 (keywords: volcanoes climate change impacts)
  • Lamb, H.H. and Woodroffe, A. 1970. Atmospheric circulation during the last ice age. Quaternary Research 1(1), 29-58 (keywords: atmospheric circulation LIA ice historical)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1969. Climatic fluctuations. Ch.5 in Vol.2 of the World Survey of Climatology (Eds. H. Flohn and H.E. Landsberg). Elsevier, Amsterdam. (keywords: climate change historical)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1969. The new look of climatology. Nature 223, 1209-1215 (keywords: climate change methodology observations datasets modelling)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1969. Investigation of the climatic sequence: a meteorological-empirical approach. Vol.5, S.C.A.R. Conference on Quaternary Studies in the Antarctic, in: Palaeoecology of Africa and Antarctica, pp.21-63 Balkema, Cape Town. (keywords: climate change meteorology methodology)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1967. On climatic variations affecting the Far South. Polar Meteorology, WMO Technical Note No.87, pp.428-453 (keywords: climate change SH)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1966. The Changing Climate. 236pp Methuen, London. (keywords: climate change historical book)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1966. Stages in the life-cycle of North Atlantic cyclones. Weather 21(12), p.458 (keywords: storms oceans meteorology methodology)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1966. Fronts in the intertropical convergence zone. Meteorol. Mag95, 181-183 (keywords: storms atmospheric circulation)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1966. African lake-level change, world rainfall pattern anomalies and related aspects of climatic change in the 1960s. Meteorological Magazine 95, 181-183 (keywords: Africa rainfall precipitation global climate change historical)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1966. Contributions to the report of a 7-man working group published under title of 'Climatic Change'. pp.8-13, 20-22. 75pp WMO Technical Note No.79. (keywords: climate change)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1966. Climate in the 1960s ..... Geographical Journal 132(2), 1183-212 (keywords: climate change historical)
  • Lamb, H.H. (with A.I. Johnson) 1966. Secular variations of the atmospheric circulation since 1750. Geophys. Memoir110. HMSO for Met. Office. (keywords: atmospheric circulation climate change historical global warming)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1966. Palaeoclimatology. Meteorol. Mag92, 246-249 (keywords: palaeo climate change historical)
  • Lamb, H.H. (with others) 1966. Atmospheric circulation and the main climatic variables between 8000 and 0BC: meteorological evidence. Proc. Int. Symp. on World Climate from 8000 to 0BC, pp.174-217 Royal Meteorological Society. (keywords: atmospheric circulation climate change historical records meteorology observations)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1965. Is the climate changing? Pears Cyclopaedia. (keywords: climate change historical)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1965. The early medieval warm epoch and its sequel. Palaeogeogr., Palaeoclim. and Palaeoecol. 1(1), 13-37 (keywords: historical climate change global warming)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1964. The English Climate. 212pp English Universities Press, London. (keywords: climate change historical UK book)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1964. The role of atmosphere and oceans in relation to climatic changes and the growth of ice-sheets on land. Part of Ch.8 in: Problems in Palaeoclimatology (Ed. A.E.M. Nair n), pp.332-347 Wiley-Interscience Publishers, New York. (keywords: atmospheric oceans climate change ice cores)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1964. Climatic changes and variations in the atmospheric and ocean circulations . Geologische Rundschau 54, 486-504 (keywords: climate change atmospheric oceans circulation global)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1964. Atmospheric circulation and climatic changes in Europe since A.D. 800. Proc.-Verbaux of the VIth INQUA Congress, Warsaw 1961, II Palae oclimatological Section (Lodz, Poland). (keywords: atmospheric circulation climate change Europe global warming historical)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1963. What can we find out about the trend of our climate? Weather 18(7), 194-216 (keywords: climate change observations methodology)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1963. The weather, past and future. Meteorological Magazine 92, 269-272 (keywords: meteorology historical forecasting climate change)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1963. On the nature of certain climatic epochs which differed from the modern (1900-1939) normal." Proc. WMO/UNESCO Rome 1961 Symposium on Changes of Climate, pp.125-150 UNESCO, Paris - Arid Zone Research Series XX. (keywords: climate change observations historical)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1962. Changes in climate before and since the industrial revolution. Research 15, 501-109 (keywords: climate change historical industry)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1962. Atmospheric circulation, climate and climatic variations. Weather 17(3) (reprinted from Geography 46, 208-222), 88-101 (keywords: atmospheric circulation climate change methodology)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1961. Fundamentals of climate. Ch.2 in: Descriptive Palaeoclimatology (Ed. A.E.M. Nairn). Wiley - Interscience Publishers, New York. (keywords: climate methodology)
  • Lamb, H.H. and Johnson, A.I. 1961. Climatic variation and observed changes in the general circulation. Part III. Geografiska Annaler (Stockholm) 43, 363-400 (keywords: climate change observations general circulation)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1961. Climatic change within historical time as seen in circulation maps and diagrams. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 95(1), 124-161 (keywords: climate change historical records circulation observations)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1961. Atmospheric circulation, climate and climatic variations. Geography 46, 208-222 (keywords: atmospheric circulation climate change)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1960. Representation of the general atmospheric circulation: an exhibit in the Royal Society Exhibition. Meteorological Magazine 89, 319-330 (keywords: atmospheric circulation historical reconstruction)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1960. Research in world weather patterns. Marine Observer 27, 101-110 (keywords: methodology meteorology climate change global)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1960. The use of monthly mean 'CLIMAT' charts for the study of large-scale weather patterns and their seasonal development. Weather 15, 83-89 (keywords: methodology climate change meteorology reconstruction)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1959. Tornado. In: Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Physics. Pergamon Press, Oxford. (keywords: storms)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1959. The southern westerlies: a preliminary survey. Quart. J. Roy. Meteorol. Soc. 85, 1-23 (keywords: wind regional UK)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1959. Our changing climate, past and present. Weather 14, 299-318 (keywords: climate change historical)
  • Lamb, H.H. and Johnson, A.I. 1959. Climatic variation and observed changes in the general circulation. Parts I and II. Geografiska Annaler (Stockholm) 41, 94-134 (keywords: climate change observations general circulation)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1958. The occurrence of very high surface temperatures. Meteorological Magazine 87, 39-43 (keywords: surface temperature historical)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1958. Forecasting precipitation. Meteorological Magazine 87, 179-188 Met. Off. Discussion. (keywords: forecasting precipitation methodology)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1958. An expedition to the high Andes in southern Peru: some notes on the party's weather log. Meteorological Magazine 87, 225-231 (keywords: Peru meteorology observations)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1958. Differences in the meteorology of the northern and southern polar regions. Meteorological Magazine 87, 364-379 (keywords: meteorology Arctic Antarctic observations)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1957. Climate. Ch.6 in: Air Ministry Handbook of Preventive Medicine. A.P.126 9B (chapter re-issued separately by the Meteorological Office as M.O.M.581) (2nd Edn.). (keywords: climate change historical)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1957. Tornadoes in England May 21, 1950. Geophysical Memoirs 99. Meteorological Office, H.M.S.O. (keywords: storms UK historical)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1957. Some interesting features of the "Nullschicht" or maximum wind layer. Meteorological Magazine 86, 142-145 (keywords: wind meteorology)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1957. Jet streams over North Africa and the central Mediterranean in January and February 1954. Meteorol. Mag86, 76-84 (keywords: wind atmospheric circulation Africa Mediterranean historical)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1957. Some special features of the climate of St. Helena and the Trade-Wind zone in the South Atlantic. Meteorol. Mag., 86, 73-76 (keywords: climate SH oceans wind Atlantic)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1957. Synoptic meteorology of the polar regions. Meteorological Magazine 86, 130-138 (keywords: meteorology Arctic Antarctic)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1956. Antarctic atmospheric circulation. Nature 177, 1076-1077 (keywords: Antarctic atmospheric circulation)
  • Lamb, H.H. (with Cdr. G.P. Britton) 1956. A study of the general circulation of the atmosphere over the Far South. Weather 11 (in two parts), 281-291, 339-354 (keywords: general circulation atmospheric SH Antarctic)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1956. Meteorological results of the Balaena Expedition 1946-47. Geophys. Memoir No.94. H.M.S.O. (for Met. Office). (keywords: meteorology observations)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1955. Two-way relationship between the snow or ice limit and 1000-500mb thickness in the overlying atmosphere. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Met. Soc.81, 172-189 (keywords: atmospheric pressure ice snow)
  • Lamb, H.H. (with Cdr. G.P. Britton) 1955. General atmospheric circulation and weather variations in the Antarctic. Geographical Journal 121(3), 334-349 (keywords: atmospheric circulation meteorology Antarctic climate change)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1953. British weather around the year, Parts I and II. Weather 8, 131-136 and 176-182 (keywords: UK meteorology historical)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1953. Malta's sea breezes. Weather 10, 256-264 (keywords: Malta wind meteorology Mediterranean)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1951. The development of a method of estimating and forecasting the winds at 10,000 feet over the North Atlantic. Geophys. PubnIII(2). Stationery Office for Meteorological Service, Dublin. (keywords: methodology forecasting wind energy oceans)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1951. Essay on frontogenesis and frontolysis, Parts I, II and III. Meteorological Magazine 80, 35-46, 65-71 and 97-106. (keywords: meteorology methodology storms)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1950. Tornadoes of May 21, 1950. Meteorological Magazine 79, 245-256 (keywords: storms historical)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1950. Types and spells of weather around the year in the British Isles: annual trends, seasonal structure of the year, singularities. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society 76, 393-438 (keywords: meteorological UK historical)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1948. Australasian Antarctic Expedition 1911-14 ..... under .... Sir Douglas Mawson (a review). Meteorological Magazine 77, 108-111 (keywords: Australia New Zealand Antarctic SH historical meteorology)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1939. A visit to Iceland. Quart. J. Roy. Met. Soc65, 244-248 (keywords: Iceland climate historical)
  • Lamb, H.H. 1939. Climate and legend in Norway. Quart. J. Roy. Meteorol. Soc65, 510 (and pictures). (keywords: climate Norway historical reconstruction)