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Tuesday 23 Feb 2021UNSEEN extreme UK summertime daily precipitation: reducing uncertainty on plausible extreme scenarios

Chris Kent (UK Met Office, Exeter) -

Zoom 13:30-14:30

[XCS External Seminar] UNSEEN extreme UK summertime daily precipitation: reducing uncertainty on plausible extreme scenarios – Chris Kent, UK Met Office, Exeter


The UNSEEN (UNprecedented Simulated Extremes using ENsembles) method involves using a large ensemble of initialised climate model simulations to increase the sample size of rare events. In this work we extend UNSEEN to focus on intense summertime daily rainfall events. Specifically, plausible extreme rainfall scenarios are developed to help understand potential surface water flooding impacts, and ultimately better inform flood management and resilience across the UK. To help address modelling limitations a large ensemble of simulations from two climate models were used; an initialised 25km global model (parametrized convection), and a dynamically downscaled 2.2km model (explicit convection). Climate model fidelity was assessed using a regional pooling technique based on extreme value theory. The UNSEEN analysis provides new estimates of plausible extreme return levels (i.e. 1-in-1000 year) across the UK and can reduce uncertainty in the expected frequency of very rare events. The annual chance of unprecedented daily rainfall events in the current climate is also quantified, and the large-scale dynamical drivers of extreme daily summertime rainfall assessed.


Chris obtained a first class degree in Ocean Science from Plymouth University in 2008. He then worked on satellite remote sensing of ocean colour for four years, improving products from the MERIS sensor, and developing software for radiometric inter-calibration of optical satellite sensors. Chris joined the Met Office in 2012 focusing on the interactions between the climate (change and variability) and human systems. Research topics included the risk of unprecedented adverse growing conditions for crop production, assessment of food price shocks on commodities important to the UK due to extreme weather, providing climate science information to the UK Ministry of Defence and analysing model uncertainty in CMIP5 projections for tropical precipitation. Chris joined the Monthly-to-Decadal Variability and Predictability group in 2019 and undertakes research into global climate dynamics, as well as climate predictions and services.

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