Climate change and its impact on society and ecosystems is a pressing global concern, demanding solutions developed by a community of researchers who work together across a range of disciplines.

The University of Leeds undertakes more world-leading climate research than any other UK institution. Leeds has more than 150 academic staff working on climate related research with £100m in research income and 40 papers published in Nature and Science between 2010 and 2015. Leeds provided five lead authors for the last Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment and was one of very few worldwide institutions that had lead authors on all four IPCC reports that made up its overall fifth assessment of climate change.

The Priestley International Centre for Climate established in 2016, is a major investment (£6.82m over five years) by the University of Leeds to grow interdisciplinary research to underpin robust and timely climate solutions.

Key strengths  

Academics at the University of Leeds are using world-class expertise and interdisciplinary capability to deliver climate research with reach into every continent worldwide. Our findings are improving our understanding of fundamental climate science, developing strategies to reduce and mitigate climate change and its impacts, and supporting society, ecosystems and infrastructure in adapting to our changing climate.

Using our combination of expertise, scale, track record and relevance the Priestley International Centre for Climate is able to deliver excellent research to underpin robust and timely climate solutions with a specific focus on four areas: improving prediction of future climate, understanding risk to develop a resilient world, enabling low carbon transitions, and addressing the social political and economic dimensions of climate change.

Facts and figures

  • Ranked first in the UK for research power in Earth and Environmental Science in REF2014.
  • Over 150 experts working on climate and related research
  • Over £20m a year income for climate research
  • Leeds researchers have contributed to all elements of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports and published over 40 papers in Nature and Science between 2010 and 2015
  • Is a key partner in the development of our national climate modelling capability, making use of extensive local and national high performance computing resources. 
  • Leeds has unique laboratories researching fundamental processes in the Earth’s atmosphere, transport simulation, engineering and air quality. It hosts the National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) Atmospheric Measurement Facility and provides equipment and personal to run field campaigns and research expeditions in the remotest parts of the world.   

Major projects

National centre for atmospheric science (NCAS)
NCAS is a NERC research centres which aims to increase knowledge of key environmental issues including: climate change, weather processes and atmospheric composition including air quality.

ESRC Centre for climate change economics and policy (CCCEP)
This ESRC centre brings together some of the world’s leading researchers on climate change economics and policy, from many different disciplines to advance public and private action on climate change through rigorous, innovative research.

NERC-DFID Future climate for Africa programme
Future climate for Africa (FCFA) is a £20m programme to develop improved understanding of both climate change in Africa and its impacts, and to work with decision makers in Africa to make use of this information for decision making on the five to 40 year time scale. Leeds the most widely represented institution in the programme with involvement in four out of the five consortia (including one lead):

Tropical forests in a changing climate
Tropical Forests in the Changing Earth System is a European Research Council project aiming to construct a pan-tropical observatory of forest function, to explore forest response to global change.

Centre for polar observation and modelling (CPOM)
CPOM is a NERC research centre that studies processes in the Earth's polar latitudes that may affect the Earth's albedo, polar atmosphere and ocean circulation, and global sea level.

Environmental humanities for a concerned Europe, ENHANCE
A Marie Curie European innovative training network (ITN) providing multidisciplinary doctoral training in Environmental Humanities.

A programme of research in astronomical theory, astronomical observations and planetary and solar science
Addressing two key areas of astrophysics; how do stars form from clouds of dust and gas and what chemical processes are at work in our solar system that may play a role in the emergence of life. The study of the extreme atmospheres on bodies such as Saturn's moon Titan will further help our understanding of the gases, aerosols and hazes in the Earth’s atmosphere which contributed to air pollution.

Met Office academic partnership
A cluster of research excellence that brings together the Met Office and institutions who are among the leading UK Universities in weather and climate science (University of Exeter, University of Leeds, University of Oxford and University of Reading) through a formal collaboration to advance the science and skill of weather and climate prediction.

Key people

Management Group 

Professor Piers Forster
Director, Priestley International Centre for Climate 

Professor John Plane
Deputy Director, Priestley International Centre for Climate

Professor Wandi Bruine de Bruin
Deputy Director, Priestley International Centre for Climate

Management Committee

Professor Emanuel Gloor
Professor in Biogeochemical Cycles

Professor Peter Taylor
Chair in Sustainable Energy Systems

Dr Julia Steinberger
Associate Professor

Professor Andy Dougill
Dean of Faculty of Environment and Professor of Environmental Sustainability

Professor Andy Challinor
Professor of Climate Impacts


Dr Shona Smith
Research and Innovation Development Officer
Tel: 01133430563

Kate Lock
Communication Officer
Tel: 01133439767

Case studies

Delivering a new generation of climate simulations

Producing regional climate narratives to make better predictions of future climate

Reforming crop breeding to keep pace with climate change

Triple-win adaptation tackle climate change, land degradation and biodiversity loss

Limiting risks from Arctic sea ice changes using near-real time satellite monitoring

Policy recommendations for energy demand reduction

Decarbonising city heat using the Leeds Heat and Planning Tool

Communicating climate and weather risk

Low carbon action plans for climate smart cities

Find out more 

Read more about our current research and expertise