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Mathematics and Statistics

Photo of Prof David B. Stephenson

Prof David B. Stephenson

Chair in Statistical Climatology

 (Streatham) 5275

 01392 725275



The Publications link to the right is an automatic list - if you would like copies for personal use then please refer to my manual list of publications. Or check out google scholar for a list of my citations, which is slightly more up-to-date than my researcherID summary on web of science.

Research interests

I am interested in making intelligent use of statistical modelling to provide deeper insight into weather and climate processes and improve our ability to forecast and reduce risk. These are some of the issues my recent research is currently addressing:

  • How to reliably combine and recalibrate climate change simulations to make real world projections?
  • How to quantify the rarity of extreme multi-decadal climate trends?
  • How to fundamentally improve the detection and attribution of climate change trends?
  • Why are extreme events spatially independent in turbulence and other physical systems?
  • What is the risk of the compound extreme rain and winds in mid-latitude storms?

One recent interest is in quantifying the global mean warming trend and I've made this page recently that automatically gives the latest estimate: How close are we to 1.5 degrees global mean warming?

I am happy to make new collaborations if I can add value to them so please email me if:

  • You have a research project/proposal that could benefit from my insight;
  • You require consultancy advice on either climate change or storm risk;
  • You wish to do a PhD project under my supervision.

Brief biography

Professor David B. Stephenson is Director of the Exeter Climate Systems (XCS) research centre, which has grown impressively since he founded it upon his arrival in Exeter in 2007.

His research focuses on the development and novel application of statistical modelling to understand climate processes and predictions. Since 1989, he has published more than 180 well-cited papers and a leading book on forecast verification (H-index of 75). He was one of the authors in the 2013 IPCC 5th assessment report: lead author on chapter 14 and contributing author on chapters 2 and 9.

He is an elected member of the prestigious Academia Europaea – the European Academy of Science. In 2012, he was awarded the Adrian Gill prize of the Royal Meteorological Society for pioneering interdisciplinary collaboration between climate and statistical science. From 2003-2009, he served as Editor for the Journal of Climate and from 2007-10 was an expert member on the WMO Joint Working Group on Forecast Verification. He is currently co-chair of the climate change task force of the Royal Statistical Society.

He has also developed successful partnerships with industry, which has ensured that his research has been successfully translated to improve decision-making and create wealth. In 2006, he was a founding member of the Willis Research Network, one of the world's largest partnerships between academia and the insurance industry. While Met Office joint chair (2007-12), he helped initiate and design the Met Office Academic Partnership.

He received a 1st class Honours degree in Physics at Oxford University (1982-1985) and received a PhD in Theoretical Particle Physics from Edinburgh University (1982-1988) (supervised by Profs. Peter Higgs and Richard Kenway). Concerning mathematical genealogy, he is the direct offspring of Nobel prize-winner Peter Higgs and has an Erdos number of 4.

Former PhD Students

I am very proud that all of my former PhD students have graduated successfully and have gone on to have interesting careers (mostly in research). I have successfully supervised more than 20 PhD thesis projects (see below for ones where I have been main supervisor).

  • Donald Cummins (2021) Foundational basis for optimal climate change detection from energy-balance and cointegration models. Current affiliation: Meteo-France.
  • Laura Dawkins (2016) Statistical modelling of European windstorm footprints to explore hazard characteristics and insured loss. Current affiliation: senior scientist at the UK Met Office.

  • Philip Sansom (2014) Statistical methods for quantifying uncertainty in climate projections from ensembles of climate models. Current affiliation: senior scientist at the UK Met Office.

  • Alasdair Hunter (2014) Quantifying and understanding the aggregate risk of natural hazards. Current affiliation: Barcelona Supercomputing Centre.

  • Alemtsehai Turasie (2012) Cointegration modelling of climatic time series. Current affiliation: senior lecturer in statistics at Adelphi University, New York.

  • Rachel Lowe (2011) Spatio-temporal modelling of climate-sensitive disease risk : Towards an early warning system for dengue in Brazil. Current affiliation: research Professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

  • Chun Kit Ho (2010) Projecting extreme heat-related mortality in Europe under climate change. Current affiliation: Hong Kong Observatory.

  • Pascal Mailier (2007) Serial clustering of extratropical cyclones. Current affiliation: Senior Scientist at the Royal Meteorological Institution, Belgium.

  • Caio Coelho (2005) Forecast calibration and combination : Bayesian assimilation of seasonal climate predictions. Current affiliation: senior scientist at Brazilian Center for Weather Forecasting and Climate Research CPTEC CPTEC.

  • Mathew Sapiano (2004) Trends and variablity in observations of winter precipitation. Current affiliation: Senior Statistician, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, US.

  • Tim Mosedale (2004) North Atlantic Ocean-atmosphere interaction using simple and complex models. Current affiliation: Head of Value Analytics and Modelling at Lloyds Banking Group.

  • Barbara Casati (2004) New approaches for the verification of spatial precipitation forecasts. Current affiliation: senior scientist at Environment Canada.

If you would like to read their theses then please type the title or name into the search engine on the ETHOS database.

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Copyright Notice: Any articles made available for download are for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and the copyright holder.

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  • Atkinson MD, Kettlewell PS, Hollins PD, Stephenson DB, Parsons ST. (2001) Forecasting quality and breadmaking premium of wheat from the winter North Atlantic Oscillation, Aspects of Applied Biology, volume 64, pages 127-128.
  • Wanner H, Bronnimann S, Casty C, Gyalistras D, Luterbacher J, Schmutz C, Stephenson DB, Xoplaki E. (2001) North Atlantic Oscillation - Concepts and studies, Surveys in Geophysics, volume 22, no. 4, pages 321-382, DOI:10.1023/A:1014217317898.
  • Thornes JE, Stephenson DB. (2001) How to judge the quality and value of weather forecast products, Meteorological Applications, volume 8, pages 307-314, DOI:10.1017/S1350482701003061. [PDF]
  • Kettlewell PS, Atkinson MD, Stephenson DB, Hollins PD. (2001) Climatic factors mediating the effect of the winter North Atlantic Oscillation on wheat quality, Aspects of Applied Biology, volume 64, pages 129-130.
  • Antoniadou A, Besse P, Fougeres A-L, Le G, Stephenson DB. (2001) L'Oscillation Atlantique Nord NAO: et son influence sur le climat europeen, Revue de Statistique Appliquee, no. 3, pages 39-60.



  • Burgers G, Stephenson DB. (1999) The 'Normality' of El Nino, Geophysical Research Letters, volume 26, pages 1027-1030, DOI:10.1029/1999GL900161.
  • Macias J, Stephenson DB, Kearsley A. (1999) A basic reference state suitable for anomaly-coupled ocean-atmosphere climate models, Applied Mathematics Letters, volume 12, no. 1, pages 21-24.
  • Stephenson DB, Kumar KR, Doblas-Reyes FJ, Royer JF, Chauvin E, Pezzulli S. (1999) Extreme daily rainfall events and their impact on ensemble forecasts of the Indian monsoon, MON WEATHER REV, volume 127, no. 9, pages 1954-1966, DOI:10.1175/1520-0493(1999)127<1954:EDREAT>2.0.CO;2.



  • Macías J, Stephenson D, Terray L, Belamari S. (1997) Interannual variability simulated in the Tropical Pacific, The Mathematics of Models for Climatology and Environment, Springer Nature, 395-408, DOI:10.1007/978-3-642-60603-8_12.
  • Garric G, Stephenson DB, Terray L. (1997) A global coupled atmosphere-sea ice-upper ocean simulation, Comptes Rendus - Academie des Sciences, Serie II: Sciences de la Terre et des Planetes, volume 324, no. 7, pages 529-536.
  • Stephenson DB. (1997) Correlation of spatial climate/weather maps and the advantages of using the Mahalanobis metric in predictions, TELLUS A, volume 49, no. 5, pages 513-527, DOI:10.1034/j.1600-0870.1997.t01-4-00001.x.
  • Garric G, Stephenson DB, Terray L. (1997) A global coupled atmosphere sea ice upper ocean simulation (Simulation couplee globale atmosphere, banquise et ocean superficiel), Les Comptes Rendus de l'Academie des Sciences, volume t324, no. 7, pages 529-536.


  • Macias J, Stephenson DB. (1996) Seasonal and interannual ENSO variability in a Hybrid Coupled Model of the tropical Pacific, Les Comptes Rendus de l'Academie des Sciences, volume t.324, no. 4, pages 269-276.





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