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Climate Science for Service Partnership (CSSP) between the UK and China

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From floods and droughts to rising seas, humanity faces some serious challenges related to climate change, which vary on timescales from seasons to decades.

Some regions are more vulnerable than others. For example, East Asia is particularly prone to extreme weather events. Rapid economic development in the region has some impact on vulnerability, and the pace of change, together with a growing population, mean the impacts could potentially be unexpected and severe.

Crowded street
Crowded street

Harnessing UK climate science expertise abroad

The UK Met Office has recently been working to develop climate science and climate services through global strategic partnerships with China, harnessing UK scientific expertise. The Climate Science for Service Partnership China (CSSP China) is an academic collaboration between:

Climate services will bridge the gap between information developed by scientists and service providers and the practical needs of climate-sensitive decision-makers in government, industry and society.  The services facilitate climate-smart decision-making to:

  • mitigate the impacts of climate-related disasters
  • improve food, water and energy security outcomes
Shenyang City, Liaoning province, China
Shenyang City, Liaoning province, China

CSSP China is one project within the Weather and Climate Science for Service Partnership Programme supported by the UK government's Newton Fund. The Newton Fund builds scientific and innovation partnerships with 16 partner countries to support their economic development and social welfare, and to develop their research and innovation capacity for long-term sustainable growth. It has a total UK Government investment of £735 million up until 2021, with matched resources from the partner countries.

Delivering internationally excellent research 

There are five CSSP China work packages that are:

  1. monitoring, attribution and reanalysis
  2. understanding the global dynamics of climate variability and change
  3. East Asian climate variability and extremes
  4. development of models and climate projection systems
  5. developing climate services to manage risks and opportunities

The programme has been running for two years and supports researchers from across the UK climate science community in their work with Chinese scientists.

The partnership has already had 16 papers published in internationally recognised scientific journals and is starting to develop prototype climate services.

Climate service contributing to climate-smart decision-making

China has a rapidly growing urban population and a growing number of megacities, so there are concerns about the risks posed by climate change.


Flooding is one such risk and so a study is underway to identify the risks to urban flooding from climate change in terms of:

  • intensity of rainstorms
  • rising sea level
  • high tide
  • typhoon induced storm surges

to enable urban planners and communities to improve resilience to flooding.

The project is sharing and adapting London's experiences in developing climate change resilient flood control, to propose a strategy for Shanghai as part of a broader climate change adaptation strategy.

Flooding and energy production

The yellow River and Hukou waterfalls
The yellow River and Hukou waterfalls

Another highlight of the CSSP China project so far is testing of a prototype climate service for the Three Gorges Dam / Yangtze River region to inform flood and energy management. This could bring immediate benefits for the local population living with the risk of flooding and the wider population who benefit from the electricity produced.

Renewable energy

The wider renewable energy sector is also interested in climate services. A joint workshop between the UK and Chinese scientists and Chinese energy sector representatives identified better understanding of climate variability, and improved observational datasets as key services to understand future wind power production, and to provide assurance for financial investments.

Building a strong, sustainable partnership for the future

CSSP China is expected to run for several more years, but the strong partnership with organisations in China at both the working and strategic level will mean collaborations run far beyond that, as will the expected social and economic benefits.

The partnership promotes excellence in research and innovation, bringing science out of the seminar room and into services that improve people's lives, safeguard homes and livelihoods, and support a global effort to improve resilience to our changing climate.

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