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Met Office and leading UK universities launch Academic Partnership

Met Office and leading UK universities launch Academic Partnership

The University of Leeds is joining forces with the Met Office, University of Exeter and the University of Reading to form a new partnership that could lead to better weather and climate predictions.

The Met Office Academic Partnership aims to combine the strengths of the universities and the Met Office to secure the UK's position in leading the world in weather forecasting and climate prediction, and provide an outstanding environment to develop the atmospheric science leaders of the future. The partnership will be officially launched in London today.

The University of Leeds arm of the collaboration will be led by Professor Doug Parker from the School of Earth and Environment, who will become Met Office Chair of Meteorology. Part of his research will be trying to unravel the mysteries of one of the most unpredictable weather systems on Earth - the West African Monsoon.

Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government, Sir John Beddington said: "Our economies and societies are increasingly vulnerable to hazardous weather and climatic changes. To understand the challenges we face and to help build resilience requires cutting edge scientific research and its application to practical policy making and decisions.

"I welcome this Partnership which seeks to boost our national capability, by harnessing better the excellence that exists within the UK Met Office and across academia."

Professor Parker said: "Weather and climate affect every person on the planet and being able to accurately model and predict these highly variable systems is one of the biggest challenges we face as scientists.

"Working closely with the partner institutions and having access to the Met Office models and supercomputers will allow us to contribute to better, more detailed computer models that will have a positive impact on society. It's also great news for the Yorkshire region as it as it firmly positions Leeds as one of the foremost UK centres for meteorology and climate science."

Julia Slingo, Met Office Chief Scientist said: "This is the first time that a group of universities has joined forces with a leading government organisation to form a cluster of research excellence aimed at accelerating science research to benefit society.

"This is just the start of what I hope will be an exciting joint venture and only one element of our collaborations, both here and overseas, aimed at maximising the benefit of the UK's world-class expertise in weather forecasting and climate prediction."

The Met Office already collaborates on around 40 projects with the universities within the Academic Partnership and supports over 30 Collaborative Awards in Science and Engineering (CASE) studentships. This new relationship will create a cluster of over 1,000 scientists working in areas from atmospheric chemistry and air quality to weather extremes and risk management.

For more information

For more information about ongoing collaborations between the University of Leeds and the other partner organisations, or to request an interview, please contact the University of Leeds press office on 0113 343 4031 or email pressoffice@leeds.ac.uk

Alternatively, contact the Met Office Press Office by telephone +44 (0)1392 886655 or email pressoffice@metoffice.gov.uk

To arrange an interview with Professor Doug Parker contact the University of Leeds press office on 0113 343 4031 or email pressoffice@leeds.ac.uk

Notes to editors

As the United Kingdom's national weather service, the Met Office provides weather forecasts and climate change advice to the public, businesses and the military, maintains a suite of models for weather prediction and climate projection, and conducts a wide range of atmospheric research.

The 2008 Research Assessment Exercise showed the University of Leeds to be the UK's eighth biggest research powerhouse. The University is one of the largest higher education institutions in the UK and a member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities. The University's vision is to secure a place among the world's top 50 by 2015. http://www.leeds.ac.uk/

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