Science for Adaptation: Learning and Innovation in EvideNce about future climaTe

SALIENT is a four year research programme to transform climate change outlooks, led by Dr Rachel James, as part of a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship. The programme will run from August 2022 to July 2026, with possibility for a 3 year extension. The first phase of SALIENT will focus on improving information about how southern African climate is likely to change in the coming decades, focusing on temperature, rainfall, heat extremes, heavy rainfall, and drought.


Ever wish you could get a better understanding of how climate could change in the decades to come?

The climate is changing. Rising temperatures, increasing heat extremes, changes in rainfall, and a whole array of other climate change impacts have potential to affect every aspect of the way we live our lives: food, water, travel, health, and beyond. Each of us will need to adapt.

Yet it’s hard to prepare for the future when you don’t know what’s coming. Scientists have made remarkable progress in researching and modelling the climate system, but there are still big uncertainties about how climate change will unfold in the years and decades to come, especially when it comes to predicting impacts for a particular place and time. Communicating these uncertainties is tricky, making it challenging to understand the evidence and to use it for decision making.

Addressing the “climate futures information gap"

Climate change poses risks to agriculture, water resources, human health, and beyond. Each of us will potentially need to adapt. Planning that adaptation requires anticipating changes in risk, and there is great demand for information about future climate.

You can read more about the climate futures information gap here.


Dr Rachel James – Principal Investigator

My research focuses on African climate systems. I’m trying to find out more about how climate is changing now, and what further changes we can expect in the coming years and decades. This work is designed to inform climate change policy and planning. Before joining Bristol in 2020, I worked at University of Oxford and University of Cape Town. For this UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship, and over the next 4-7 years I’ll be working with my team to improve climate information for climate change adaptation, bringing together new climate science analysis with insights from psychology and risk communication.

Follow me on Twitter @_RachelJames, email me at

University of Bristol profile

Ailish Craig – Research Associate

My research explores climate services in southern Africa. A key focus of my work is to bridge the gap between climate model data and decision makers. This work will ensure decision makers have access to understandable and accurate climate information that can be used to inform national climate adaptation plans. The research is interdisciplinary, taking theories and methods from geography, risk communication and environmental psychology.

Before joining Bristol in 2023, I undertook my PhD at the University of Southampton. My thesis explored social capital in Malawi and how it is used to alleviate hunger whilst also considering differences over time and between genders.

University of Bristol profile

Alan Kennedy-Asser – Research Associate

I joined the University of Bristol as an undergraduate in 2010, staying on to complete my PhD on past climate and ice sheet dynamics of Antarctica (2015-2019) before researching climate impacts, focussing on the impact of heat extremes in the UK funded by ther UK Climate Resilience Programme.

I joined the Climate Dynamics group in 2023 as a climate researcher on the SALIENT project, where my work focuses on climate data analysis over Southern Africa. I’m interested in inter-disciplinary methods, having led on a Brigstow Institute funded poetry project, and in policy engagement, having worked for a year as an embedded researcher with Climate Northern Ireland.

University of Bristol profile

Lauren Brown – Project Research Officer

I support Rachel James and the wider research team to ensure the successful delivery of SALIENT in the management of administrative, contractual and financial matters relating to this project.

You can contact me at for any project queries.


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