Professor Paul D. Williams
I am a Professor of Atmospheric Science in the Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading, UK. I lead the Weather Research Division, composed of 30 atmospheric scientists with an annual research income of around £3 million. I previously held a Royal Society University Research Fellowship and NERC Independent Research Fellowship.
Educated in physics to PhD level at Oxford, I specialise in atmospheric turbulence, jet streams, fluid dynamics, numerical modelling, and climate change, with a focus on weather-sensitive applications including aviation. I am particularly interested in the impacts of climate change on aviation, including the prospect of more turbulence. The citation for my £70,000 Philip Leverhulme Prize describes me as “an innovative and highly original researcher [who] has made significant contributions to dynamical meteorology and oceanography”. I recently led a project that won the Times Higher Education Awards STEM Research Project of the Year.
My research achievements to date include: co-developing an award-winning aviation turbulence forecasting algorithm that has made billions of passenger journeys smoother and safer; discovering that climate change could treble the amount of severe turbulence in the atmosphere; and inventing a numerical time integration scheme that is now standard textbook material and has measurably improved dozens of atmosphere, ocean, and climate models worldwide.
I have published two books and over 70 peer-reviewed articles in leading journals, including Nature. I am the founding Editor-in-Chief of the new open-access journal Meteorology, I am a founding Advisory Board Member for the F1000Research Climate Gateway, and I am the Editor of the Royal Meteorological Society's Book Series Developments in Weather and Climate Science.
I am also an award-winning science communicator, regularly giving public lectures, speaking at science festivals such as New Scientist Live, debating climate change sceptics, and appearing in the media (reload this page to watch randomly selected TV interviews above). I have been quoted on the front page of the New York Times, I have explained the Coriolis force in The Times, and Chelsea Clinton and Cher have tweeted about my research. I am a consultant to Guinness World Records, advising on extreme atmospheric events for the famous series of best-selling annual reference books.
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[Last updated Wed 19 Jul 2023.]