David Stainforth

Professorial Research Fellow


David is a physicist by training and has many years’ experience of climate modelling.

While a researcher at Oxford University, he co-founded and was chief scientist of the climateprediction.net project, the world’s largest climate modelling experiment.

David has been both a NERC Research Fellow and a Tyndall Research Fellow at Oxford University.

Research interests

  • How we can extract robust and useful information about future climate, and climate related phenomena, from modelling experiments;
  • Issues of how to design climate modelling experiments and how to link climate science to real-world decision making in such a way as to be of value to industry, policymakers and wider society.


Research article  19 July, 2018

The changing shape of local climates

Article explores the local consequences of global climate change and the implications for decisions about how to adapt. Earth Magazine, July 2018

Research article  26 June, 2018

Building narratives to characterise uncertainty in regional climate change through expert elicitation

Knowledge about regional and local climate change can inform climate risk assessments and adaptation decisions. However, estimates of future precipitation change at the regional and local level are deeply … read more »

Research article  18 January, 2018

Water resource planning under future climate and socioeconomic uncertainty in the Cauvery River Basin in Karnataka, India

This research applies a Decision‐Making Under Uncertainty (DMUU) approach to explore the robustness of adaptation options and pathways against future climate and socioeconomic uncertainties in the Cauvery River Basin in Karnataka, India. read more »


Research article  3 November, 2016

On the physics of three integrated assessment models

Integrated assessment models (IAMs) are the main tools for combining physical and economic analyses to develop and assess climate change policy. Policy makers have relied heavily on three IAMs in … read more »

Research article  29 September, 2016

Barriers and opportunities for robust decision making approaches to support climate change adaptation in the developing world

Climate change adaptation is unavoidable, particularly in developing countries where the adaptation deficit is often larger than in developed countries. Robust Decision Making (RDM) approaches are considered useful for … read more »


Research article  18 September, 2015

Equipped to deal with uncertainty in climate and impacts predictions: lessons from internal peer review

The quantification of uncertainty is an increasingly popular topic, with clear importance for climate change policy. However, uncertainty assessments are open to a range of interpretations, each of which may … read more »

Research article  16 September, 2015

Limits to the quantification of local climate change

We demonstrate how the fundamental timescales of anthropogenic climate change limit the identification of societally relevant aspects of changes in precipitation. We show that it is nevertheless possible to extract, … read more »

Research article  4 September, 2015

Irreducible uncertainty in near-term climate projections

Model simulations of the next few decades are widely used in assessments of climate change impacts and as guidance for adaptation. Their non-linear nature reveals a level of irreducible uncertainty … read more »

Research article  7 May, 2015

An assessment of the foundational assumptions in high-resolution climate projections: the case of UKCP09

The United Kingdom Climate Impacts Programme’s UKCP09 project makes high-resolution projections of the climate out to 2100 by post-processing the outputs of a large-scale global climate model. The aim of … read more »

Research article  28 January, 2015

Tales of future weather

Society is vulnerable to extreme weather events and, by extension, to human impacts on future events. As climate changes weather patterns will change. The search is on for more … read more »


Research article  9 March, 2014

Climate projection: Testing climate assumptions

Stainforth, D. A. In: Nature Climate Change (9th March 2014).

Research article  11 February, 2014

Assessing pricing assumptions for weather index insurance in a changing climate

We expose the benefits and limitations of the Bayesian Network approach, weather index insurance as an adaptation measure and climate simulations as a source of quantitative predictive information. Current climate model output is shown to be of limited value and difficult to use by index insurance practitioners. The method presented, however, is shown to be an effective tool for testing pricing assumptions and could feasibly be employed in the future to incorporate multiple sources of climate data. read more »


Research article  1 December, 2013

The Myopia of Imperfect Climate Models: The Case of UKCP09

Frigg, R., L.A. Smith, D. A. Stainforth. In: Philosophy of Science, December 2013.

Research article  21 September, 2013

Tall tales and fat tails: the science and economics of extreme warming

It has recently been highlighted that the economic value of climate change mitigation depends sensitively on the slim possibility of extreme warming. This insight has been obtained through a … read more »

Research article  21 September, 2013

Mapping climate change in European temperature distributions

Climate change poses challenges for decision makers across society, not just in preparing for the climate of the future but even when planning for the climate of the present … read more »

Research article  21 August, 2013

On predicting climate under climate change

Can today’s global climate model ensembles characterize the 21st century climate in their own ‘model-worlds’? This question is at the heart of how we design and interpret climate model … read more »

Research article  21 May, 2013

On estimating local long-term climate trends

Climate sensitivity is commonly taken to refer to the equilibrium change in the annual mean global surface temperature following a doubling of the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration. Evaluating this … read more »

Research article  20 January, 2013

Do probabilistic expert elicitations capture scientists’ uncertainty about climate change?

Expert elicitation studies have become important barometers of scientific knowledge about future climate change (Morgan and Keith, Environ Sci Technol 29(10), 1995; Reilly et al., Science 293(5529):430–433, 2001; Morgan … read more »


Working paper  1 August, 2010

Probabilistic regional and seasonal predictions of twenty-first century temperature and precipitation

The rationale for international agreements on climate change mitigation comes from the global scope of impacts, irrespective of the location of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. By … read more »

More in research publications


Policy publications  1 March, 2013

An Independent National Adaptation Programme for England

An Independent National Adaptation Programme for England read more »

More in policy publications


In the news  26 November, 2018

Climate change: UK summers could be over 5C warmer by 2070

BBC News, 26 November 2018

In the news  26 November, 2018

UK summers could be over 5 degrees Celsius hotter by 2070

CNN, 26 November 2018


Announcement  11 September, 2013

Video abstract on mapping climate change

A translation of observations of weather into observations of climate change at local scales is presented in a new paper by David Stainforth, Sandra Chapman and Nick Watkins. The paper shows … read more »

Announcement  11 September, 2013

Video abstract of new paper on mapping climate change

David Stainforth discusses his climate change research paper, which shows how the distributions of daily temperatures have changed shape over the last half century. Such information is likely to be valuable in planning adaptation measures. read more »

Announcement  30 August, 2013

Video abstract of new paper explores issues in the design and interpretation of climate model ensembles

Drs Joe Daron and David Stainforth use the video to further explain their paper, which suggests that to understand future climate we need far larger ensembles of Global Climate Models than are available today. read more »

Announcement  15 March, 2013

Presentation at EQUIP workshop on uncertainty in weather, climate and impacts

Senior Research Fellow, David Stainforth, gave a presentation at EQUIP workshop (a NERC-funded project) on 13/14 March at the Royal Society. The workshop was entitled, ‘Strengthening resilience through improved treatment … read more »


Commentary  1 July, 2011

Questions and answers with Dr David Stainforth

Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, London School of Economics. Online article no longer available. The Royal Society

Announcement  28 June, 2011

'Confidence from uncertainty' - new exhibit at the Royal Society on interpreting climate predictions

This exhibit, from 5-10 July, aims to explore how predictions are made and communicated, how and when probabilities can be deduced, and the role of computer models in these processes. It will involve interactive computer-based probability games and hands-on physical games to do so. Dr David Stainforth is leading its preparation. read more »


Commentary  12 February, 2010

Climate science in the spotlight may not be such a bad thing

Dave Stainforth: The recent scandals demonstrate a wide misunderstanding of climate science, and of science more generally the Guardian

More in news


LSE Executive Education Courses 11 Jun 2018

LSE Executive Education course | Climate change: economics and governance

This multi-disciplinary five-day course provides an in-depth overview of the economics and governance of climate change, and the risks and opportunities they present for a range of organisations. read more »


LSE Executive Education Courses 13 Jun 2016

LSE Executive Summer School | Climate change: economics and governance

This multi-disciplinary five-day course provides an in-depth overview of the economics and governance of climate change, and the risks and opportunities they present for a range of organisations. The course … read more »


LSE Executive Education Courses 29 Jun 2015

LSE Executive Summer School | Climate change: economics and governance

This multi-disciplinary five-day course provides an in-depth overview of the economics and governance of climate change, and the risks and opportunities they present for a range of organisations. read more »


Policy Seminars 14 Jan 2014

Risk Management and Climate Change

event was hosted by the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy and the Grantham Research Institute. A series of presentations, chaired by Nick Silver, (Director, Callund Consulting and … read more »


Public Lectures 20 Nov 2013

Climate Change and Cocktails

Speakers: Included David Stainforth, Naomi Hicks, Maria Carvalho, Amelia Sharman, David Wilson and Murray Collins Climate change experts from the Grantham Research Institute at the LSE and at Imperial College … read more »

More in events