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Challenge 4: Improve the capability for predicting high impact weather

Severe weather is the most dramatic example of the way the atmosphere affects our daily lives. Strong winds, heavy rains and flooding, snowfall and heat waves all bring both human and economic costs, and we need better ways of predicting these phenomena. NCAS scientists work with a range of experimental platforms and computer models to answer questions like: how does severe convection break out and can we predict where thunderstorms form? Why do we get localised regions of very strong winds in cyclonic storms? Why do anticyclones persist far longer than weather forecasting models predict? How can we predict the weather for a week to ten days ahead? How does the weather impact on air quality in the cities where most people live? The changing climate brings with it a fresh set of challenges which we are also addressing – what kind of changes will we see in extremes of weather over the coming decades? Such work is vital if scarce resources are to be correctly targeted to mitigate the worst effects of climate change. NCAS works with a range of other organisations, including the Met Office, to find answers to these pressing questions and collaborates with international partners to further WMO goals for future weather prediction.


  • Develop and validate improved predictive models for severe wind-storms
  • Improve prediction of blocking anticyclones, associated extremes of temperature and poor air quality; determine limits to predictability
  • Develop better predictive capability for precipitation associated with cyclonic and convective storms
  • Improve models of boundary-layer dynamics and structure and the interaction with orography
  • Develop and make available improved model components to advance predictive capability for high impact weather on time-scales from hours to centuries
  • Exploit and develop field experiments and long-term measurements in the delivery of the science objectives.