We are pleased to say that UKCEH atmospheric scientist Dr Cornelia Klein is among the outstanding early career researchers who have been awarded fellowships by the Natural Environment Research Council to deliver ambitious, innovative and productive environmental research. Fellows receive five years of funding, allowing them to focus on advancing their area of research.

Dr Klein's research project is titled Continental convective organisation and rainfall intensification in a warming world: improving storm predictions from hours to decades (COCOON).

It will focus on the fundamental questions of what makes extreme thunderstorms grow in size and whether climate change will mean we can expect bigger thunderstorms in the future with intense rainfall over a larger area. This work will improve short-term forecasting, a few hours ahead of upcoming storms, and to make better projections for the coming decades.

Dr Klein uses a combination of remote sensing data and atmospheric modelling to evaluate how storm characteristics have changed in the past decades and what we can expect in the future. Her research primarily focuses on tropical regions, in particular Africa and tropical South America.

Dr Klein said: “I am very happy to receive a NERC Fellowship, which will enable us to make more accurate storm predictions in regions that will be most affected by climate change.

“My fellowship work will help improve forecasting, urban planning and disaster preparation in affected countries to better protect vulnerable communities from future flooding. It will also help to improve our current climate models, which cannot simulate changes in storm size even though this is likely an important factor for rainfall intensification under climate change.”

NERC announced on 27 July a total of £7.9 million to 12 scientists through the prestigious Independent Research Fellowships scheme. Dr Klein is the only researcher on the list who works for a research centre, rather than a university.

Professor Peter Liss, Interim Executive Chair of NERC, congratulated the recipients and said: “Environmental research advances our understanding of the planet and is the key to tackling and adapting to critical challenges such as climate change. By investing in these fellowships, NERC is supporting innovation and sustainability in environmental science and developing leading researchers of the future.”