Thursday 28 Feb 2013Inspiring Science Lecture: Solar Variability and Climate

Professor Joanna Haigh, Imperial College London -

Henderson Lecture Theatre, Xfi Building and video linked to Daphne du Maurier Seminar Room J 17:15-19:00

All are welcome to attend our next Inspiring Science Lecture, given by Prof Joanna Haigh, Head of the Department of Physics at Imperial College London.

Refreshments will be served before the lecture in the Xfi Building.


The need to distinguish natural from anthropogenic causes of climate change places significant emphasis on quantifying and understanding any impact of the Sun. Prof Haigh will outline what is known about variations in solar output and review the evidence for solar influences on climate. The global average temperature response is modest, but detectable, on century timescales. There is, however, increasingly robust evidence for somewhat larger solar signals on regional climate, particularly in mid-latitudes with influence on the positions of the jet streams and storm-tracks.

An important factor driving this response appears to be the absorption in the stratosphere of solar ultraviolet radiation, followed by a dynamical coupling which transfers a solar signal to the atmosphere and surface below. Over the past few years the Sun has been in a state of low activity and some satellite measurements have suggested that the solar spectrum has been behaving in a strange and unexpected way. The talk will finish with a discussion of recent work on the implications of these spectral variations.


Joanna studied at Oxford University (MA Physics 1975, DPhil Atmospheric Physics 1980) and Imperial College London (MSc Meteorology 1977) and joined Imperial as a lecturer in 1984; she was appointed Professor of Atmospheric Physics in 2001 and Head of the Department of Physics in 2009. She has published widely in the area of radiative transfer in the atmosphere, climate modelling, radiative forcing of climate change and the influence of solar irradiance variability on climate. She has been Editor of Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, a Lead Author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Third Assessment and acted on many UK and international panels. Currently she is President of the Royal Meteorological Society, the UK representative to the International Association of Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences, Editor of the American Meteorological Society’s Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences and a Member of the Royal Society’s Climate Change Advisory Group. She is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics (IoP) and of the Royal Meteorological Society (RMetS). She received the IoP Charles Chree Medal in 2004, the RMetS Adrian Gill Medal in 2010 and was awarded a CBE in the 2013 New Years Honours.

Add to calendar

Add to calendar (.ics)