Cabinet Office High Level KE Fellowship

Lead Research Organisation: University of Reading
Department Name: Meteorology


This Fellowship provides a link between policy-makers and managers involved in assessing and managing risks posed to the UK by natural hazards, and scientists studying these hazards. It will enable the policy-makers and managers to use the latest scientific evidence in their assessments and actions, improving the nation's resilience to extreme environmental risks such as those posed by storms, floods, heatwaves, droughts, earthquakes and land contamination. It will also lead to the development of new research activities which will address any gaps in the available evidence.


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Arnell N (2021) The effect of climate change on indicators of fire danger in the UK in Environmental Research Letters

Description I have identified where environmental science evidence is used in the current National Risk Assessment, and made recommendations to the Cabinet Office on improvements to (i) the way information is used and (ii) links with the longer-term Climate Change Risk Assessment. I have participated in discussions across government departments about ways if improving adaptation to climate change in the UK. I have continued to provide scientific advice on changing future risks and implications for future resilience.
Exploitation Route My findings will help inform (i) the next National Risk Assessment, (ii) the current Climate Change Risk Assessment and (iii) the development of research projects.
Sectors Environment

Description The objectives of my Fellowship are to encourage the Cabinet Office to use the best available environmental science, and to transmit policymakers need for evidence to the environmental science community to develop new research. Specifically, I have: (i) reviewed the evidence base used to inform the current National Risk Assessment, and supported the Cabinet Office risk assessment team in developing robust and transparent assessments of natural hazard risks; (ii) encouraged close links between the National Risk Assessment and Climate Change Risk Assessment processes (by making contacts between the two groups, and providing briefings to the NRA team); (iii) produced the first drafts of two background papers on long-term drivers of risks, building strongly on my and NERC-funded research; (iv) contributed directly to the 2019 Cabinet Office Areas of Research Interest, by proposing a number of topics to be added to the list. (v) participated directly in the development of (confidential) briefing papers on climate change and national security (vi) participated in the development of new adaptation and resilience policy across UK government. I have also successfully bid for funding through the UKRI Climate Resilience programme for research into the calculation of indicators of climate risk that can be used in the National Risk Assessment and Climate Change Risk Assessment, and the development of high impact 'worst case' scenarios. I have also advised research groups (for example the Wildfire Research Group) on how to make their research relevant to policy.
First Year Of Impact 2020
Sector Environment
Impact Types Policy & public services

Description Contribution to UK National Risk Assessment
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact I have been involved in the review and development of the 2019 UK National Security Risk Assessment, focusing on the characterisation of natuial hazard risks in the UK. The NSRA is used to inform emergency planning in the UK. In principle, the NSRA leads to improved response to emergency events through improvements to the capabilities available to first responders and local authorities.
Description Contribution to review of climate change implications for national security
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
Impact I have been involved in a review by the National Security Secretariat of the implications of climate change for national security in the UK. I participated in review meetings, and my research (Arnell et al., 2019 Environmental Research Letters 14 084046) was cited in the report (which is confidential within government). The report contributes to maintaining and improving UK national security.
Description High Impact storylines and scenarios for risk assessment and planning
Amount £295,768 (GBP)
Funding ID CR20-4 
Organisation Meteorological Office UK 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2021 
End 11/2022
Description NERC Climate Resilience
Amount £288,000 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/S016481/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2019 
End 01/2020