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Sheffield floods July 07Scenes of flooding and storms show us just how much weather and climate can affect our lives. Understanding and predicting what the coming winter might bring, or predicting how climate will change over the next century is of vital importance - both for our economy and for society.

Climate can be thought of as the average or typical weather conditions we experience. Scientists know that climate varies naturally on many timescales and they know that people are affecting climate - particularly through emissions of greenhouse gases.

In NCAS-Climate, scientists are investigating how natural and human factors are affecting climate and what this means for the future.

The big research questions that we are addressing:

NCAS-Climate scientists carry out research to understand the fundamentals of how the climate system works. This provides a vital foundation to our research on natural climate variability, on the effect people are having on climate and on improving predictions of future climate.

Climate varies naturally on a whole range of timescales and these variations can have profound impacts on weather conditions around the world, such as storms and heavy rainfall. Understanding and predicting these natural variations is a key research challenge within NCAS-Climate.

Scientists know that people are affecting climate, primarily through emissions of greenhouse gases from fossil fuels. NCAS-Climate research is focussing on understanding how climate is changing on local and regional scales and how the risks from extreme weather are changing.

Scientists within NCAS-Climate are working to improve predictions of climate looking from a season to many decades into the future. Developing the next generation of climate simulators, with improved representation of weather and local detail, is key to this area of research.

Weather and climate can affect almost all aspects of our lives. NCAS-Climate scientists work with scientists from other disciplines to understand some of those impacts.

Who uses NCAS-Climate research?

NCAS-Climate scientists work with governments and businesses, the insurance sector for example, to help understand and predict the risks from climate variability and change.

How do NCAS-Climate scientists study climate?

NCAS-Climate research progresses through a combination of three key elements: (i) looking at observations of climate, such as temperature and high level winds; (2) understanding the processes that determine weather and climate and (3) developing and using computer simulators of the climate system.

Find out more about climate and climate change