About Us

The UKESM project develops and applies Earth system models (UKESM) to further our understanding of climate change and in particular the role of Earth system processes. The project also provides user support for these models to the wider NERC and UK academic community. 

The UKESM project aims are: 

  • To apply existing configurations of UKESM to investigate a range of Earth system phenomena and their sensitivity to future anthropogenic forcing 
  • To scientifically evaluate and document the performance of the UKESM models 
  • To analyze and document future projections using UKESM 
  • To provide science-based guidance on future Earth system change 
  • To provide tools and user support for UK Earth system modelling research 
  • To lead the development of future generations of the UKESM model 

Structure and collaboration

The UKESM project is a joint Met Office-NERC collaboration and comprises a core team tasked with coordinating the development of the Earth system components of UKESM models and then coupling these components into a full ESM. These components include ocean and terrestrial biogeochemistry, stratosphere-troposphere chemistry and aerosols and interactive land ice sheets. All of these components are coupled into an existing physical climate model that consist of a physical atmosphere, ocean, land and sea ice. Go to the Modelling section for more details on the model structure and components.

The UKESM project works closely with other NERC Long-term Science, Multi-centre (LTSM) projects, with the Met Office Hadley Centre Program, as well as with EU (Horizon 2020) and other international projects concerned with global climate and Earth system change. Collaboration focuses on the provision of UKESM models and simulation data to these projects for advanced scientific analysis, evaluation and co-development of improved process-understanding.  

Key projects the UKESM group are involved with include: ACSISORCHESTRALOCATECRESCENDO,  PRIMAVERA ESM2025 

International collaboration is also through established links focusing on key CMIP6 experiments. Such cooperation facilitates the sharing of models, evaluation metrics and data sets, which helps to increase the productivity of the UKESM project. 

Science and research themes

Current research themes include:

Understanding historical radiative forcing and Earth system change to increase confidence in future projections.  

Analysing and understanding future Earth system change and its socio-economic impacts, with specific focus on:

a. Near-Term Climate Forcers (NTCFs, e.g. methane, tropospheric ozone, aerosols and aerosol precursors) and their potential for mitigation of future climate change and air quality.  

b. Carbon cycle feedbacks and their role in realizing climate mitigation targets.  

c. Human and natural land use and its potential for climate change mitigation  

d. The risk of rapid, potentially irreversible change in key Earth system phenomena.  

e. The reversibility of climate change, including rapid change events, should warming targets be exceeded and returned to at a later date. So-called overshoot scenarios. 

f. The societal and environmental impacts of global change,  following a range of mitigation and overshoot scenarios.    

User and stakeholder engagement 

The UKESM project supports the UK global change research community through provision of new National Capability datasets, models and analysis tools to increase the overall strength of UK Earth system science.   

We also work with a range of stakeholders and project collaborators to maximise the benefits of the programme for informing climate-related policies and actions.   

The UKESM team actively participate in a range of policy meetings and public outreach events, communicating the science we do to the public.  

UKESM Core Team 

The core team is responsible for putting together the component models, applying and (with the wider community) evaluating UKESM. The core group has members from UKRI NERC-supported centres and Met Office staff and is based at several locations across the UK. See who we are and what we do in the Core Team