Mapping engagement with climate adaptation information: What’s used, by whom, and to do what?

Currently recruiting

Supervisor: James Porter

Non-accademic partner: UK Met Office.

Studentship start date: 01/10/2024

Application deadline: 18/02/2024

Application details: Studentship is available full-time and/or part-time

How is climate information used, by whom, and to do what? If we are to prepare for, and importantly adapt to, heatwaves, floods, wildfires, and other extreme weather events it’s crucial to understand where will be affected most (and when). Climate models, scenarios, and projections are crucial sources of information that can help us to decide how to minimise future risks and how to realise new opportunities.

But too often climate information goes unused. It can be too complex or too uncertain. In turn, the high level of skill needed to use climate information may limit who uses it and how they use it. A major concern is that the most vulnerable (and less able to adapt) may lack the time, resources, capacity, and technical know-how needed to use climate information, and therein, become doubly vulnerable.

The Met Office – responsible for weather forecasting and climate projections in the UK – has worked closely with decision-makers to improve the usability and use of its climate information. Yet as intuitive as it may sound it’s not always clear what ‘use’ means, nor is it guaranteed that something that’s ‘usable’ will be used. For instance, how information is presented (probabilistic forecasts vs storylines) can resonate differently with users and impact usability. This is important because users have different needs, face different decisions, and have different capacities. Such distinctions can be missed when a one-size-fits-all approach to producing climate information prevails.

To deliver the right information, to the right people, and at the right level, an evidence-base is urgently needed that can map out the diversity of users and uses. Indeed, what are the similarities and/or differences between city planners, water managers, and farmers over what climate information they use? How do they use that information? And to what extent are their needs met? Or how do we avoid creating climate tools that are only relevant to some users? Or justify the exclusion of other users?

Simply put, climate service providers need a method to distinguish between users, their different needs, and the barriers they face. The answer is a new Periodic Table (3Us: users, usability, and use). Working with the UK Met Office, the aim of this project is to understand what the use of climate information really means, and map out how use varies between users:

  • To explore why climate information is used differently by decision-makers;
  • To understand how climate information comes to be used, by whom, and to inform what; and
  • To gain insights to shape future climate tools to improve their use and usability.

A mixed-methods approach (survey and interviews) will be used. By capturing the experiences of different decision-makers, the project will: (a) maximise the Met Office’s strategic investment and confidence in designing new climate information; and (b) develop an evidence-based how-to guide to improve the usability and use of climate information for all users (and identify where user types are under-represented).

How to apply: Further information to support the development of your application can be found here:

All applicants for this project must complete the personal statement proforma, available here: This is instead of a personal/supporting statement or cover letter. The proforma is designed to standardise this part of the application to increase consistency in reviewing submissions by creating an equal playing field. Candidates should also submit a CV.

Applicants should also complete the Diversity Monitoring Form, available here:

Informal enquiries about the PhD project may be made to: or about LISS-DTP to:

Part-time study options: All LISS DTP studentships, Open and CASE Competition, are available either full or part-time (50%) in either 1+3 (1 year-Masters’ degree followed by a 3-year PhD) or +3 (3-year PhD) format.

Entry requirements: Students with, or expecting to gain, at least a high Upper Second Class honours and/or Masters’ degree or equivalent, are invited to apply. The interdisciplinary nature of the project means that we welcome applications from students with backgrounds in human/physical geography, science and technology studies, and political science.

Programme: PhD in Geography

Start date: 16/09/2024 (the student will be registered with the Department of Geography)

Shortlisted candidates will be notified by Friday 23rd February 2024 with interviews held on Friday 8th March 2024 via MS Teams.