Ensure - Joint Centre for Environmental Sustainability and Resiliance University of Exeter China University of Hong Kong

ACU Fellowship: CUHK-Exeter Study with Exeter to Predict Extreme Weather

Prof. Francis Tam, Associate Professor in the Earth System Science Programme at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), received an Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) Fellowship in 2021 to collaborate with the University of Exeter (Exeter) to study the climate risks posed by the South China summer monsoon. Prof. Tam talked about his collaborative project:


“The Asian summer monsoon often causes extreme floods and damages lives and properties. To minimise the damages, we first need to understand the likelihood of extreme monsoons through well-informed risk management. However, risk management in this field only looks at the extreme monsoons that have happened in the past which limits our ability to accurately assess risks.

To enhance the accuracy of risk evaluation, CUHK is working with Prof. Adam Scaife at Exeter on a project where we make use of climate models to simulate more extreme cases that have not happened. This approach enables us to predict and quantify the probability of extreme weather and assess the climate risks posed to our society.

The ACU Fellowship helped to support our computing resources to handle significant monsoon simulations from state-of-the-art climate models. This provided much more data for analysis than from observations alone.

The ACU Fellowship concluded that over South-East China, the risk of record-breaking summer monsoon rainfall—such as that during the summer of 2020—is up to 10% under our current climate. The atmospheric dynamics of these unprecedented events is also examined. These highlight contributions from the upper-atmosphere upstream over Eurasia, as well as downstream from the lower-atmosphere over the Western Pacific Ocean.

Extreme monsoon rainfall over China in the summer of 2020.

These contributions improve our understanding of the risks and predictability of unprecedented extremes. We will be presenting our results at an international science conference this August, and a publication is also planned. In addition, the fellowship opens up new research avenues and provides the basis for future collaborations and grant bidding.

The fellowship allows me to launch a project complementary to my current approaches on studying extreme events. Not only does it broaden my research scope, but it also provides a research opportunity for undergraduate students under my mentorship.

I have also benefited professionally by extending my network. Prof. Scaife and his team pioneered the methodology used. Our fellowship combines their expertise with our knowledge of the South China monsoon, both of which are essential to the project. For example, Prof. Scaife’s experience guided our methodology, whilst our expertise in the monsoon system helped interpret the results.”


The ACU Fellowships support partnership developments between ACU member institutions. The fellowships invite applications annually. ENSURE researchers may make use of the scheme to support their works.


(Credit: The original article was published on the ACU website.)

Back home Back to news home