Professor Rob Wilby

BSc, PhD (Loughborough)

  • Professor of Hydroclimatic Modelling

Academic Career

  • Since 2008: Professor of Hydroclimatic Modelling, Loughborough University
  • 2011 – 2013: Associate Dean for Research, School of Social, Political and Geographical Sciences
  • Since 2010: Adjunct Professor (Honorary), Federation University, Australia
  • 2004 – 2008: Honorary Professor in Physical Geography, Lancaster University
  • 2001 – 2002: Lecturer and Reader in Physical Geography, King’s College London
  • 1997 – 1999: Seconded to the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO, US
  • 1996: Visiting Scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO, US
  • 1993 – 2001: Senior Lecturer, then Reader in Physical Geography, University of Derby
  • 1992: Post-Doctoral Research Fellow of the National Rivers Authority, Loughborough University

Professional Responsibilities

  • 2021 – 2022: Research Excellence Framework 2021 Sub-panel Member (Geography and Environmental Studies)
  • Since 2020: Associate Editor of the Geographical Journal
  • 2018 – 2022: External Examiner BSc, Bristol University
  • 2010 – 2014: External Examiner MSc, University of Oxford
  • 2009 – 2014: External Examiner MSc, University of Ireland Maynooth, Ireland
  • 2008 – 2020: Chair of EDF/British Energy Climate Change Working Group
  • 2007 – 2010: External Examiner MSc, Newcastle
  • 2007 – 2008: Independent Climate Change Science Advisor, Nottingham
  • Since 2007: Editorial Board International Journal of Climatology
  • 2005 – 2010: Associate Editor Hydrological Sciences Journal
  • 2003 – 2007: Climate Change Science Manager, Environment Agency of England and Wales
  • 1997 – 2017: Review Editor Climate Research
  • 1990 – 1991: Assistant Water Quality Information Officer, Severn Trent Water, Derby

This research is about the management of present and projected climate risks to freshwater environments and urban areas.

This includes reconstruction of drought and flood indices to assess the severity of extreme weather events or detailed monitoring of river temperatures for ecological purposes. Time spent in the water industry, government, and consultancy gives Rob a very practical and pragmatic approach to research. Ongoing projects focus on evaluating affordable measures for reducing heatwave impacts on low income communities in tropical cities.

Following secondments to the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado he co-developed the Statistical DownScaling Model. This publicly available climate scenario tool has underpinned hundreds of climate risk assessments including for water supply, flooding, storm surge, air quality and urban heat island intensity in countries as varied as Canada, China, Morocco, Tajikistan and Yemen.

His latest research focuses on better understanding then managing the climate vulnerability of human and natural systems. Projects include simulating sub-daily rainfall intensities for flood estimation in East Africa and the Balkans, evaluating the factors that influence extreme indoor temperatures in West Africa, and developing indicators of rising river water temperature in the UK.

His teaching examines the relationship between the climate system and society.

Current Postgraduate Research Students

  • Sarah Johnson: Global assessment of flood impacts on emergency service provision.
  • Josh Thompson: Evaluating physical climate risks to housing markets.
  • Zijie Wang: Rainfall downscaling techniques for surface water flood risk modelling on the global scale.
  • Mason Durant: Climate model droughts and their use in water resource assessments in the UK.

Previous Postgraduate Research Students

  • Timo Kelder (2022): Using ensemble simulations to explore unlikely weather extremes.
  • Simon Parry (2019): Drought termination in the UK.
  • Paolo De Luca (2019): Multi-basin flood hazards.
  • Sam Dixon (2018): Seasonal forecasting of inflows to Central Asian hydropower plants.
  • Jenny Armstrong (2017): Evaluating climate risks to nuclear new build in the UK.
  • Chanita Duangyiwa (2017) Modelling flood risks in the Bangkok Metropolitan Region.
  • Joanne Parker (2014): Sensitivity of household water demand to climate variability and change.

Selected Publications

  • Kelder, T., Wanders, N., Van der Wiel, K., Marjoribanks, T.I., Slater, L.J., Wilby, R.L., Prudhomme, C. 2022. Interpreting extreme climate impacts from large ensemble simulations – are they unseen or unrealistic? Environmental Research Letters, 17, 044052.
  • Wilby, R.L., Kasei, R., Gough, K.V., Amankwaa, E., Abarike, M., Codjoe, S., Griffiths, P., Kaba, C., Abdullah, K., Kayaga, S., Matthews, T.K.R., Mensah, P., Murphy, C. and Yankson, P.W.K. 2021. Monitoring and moderating extreme indoor temperatures in low-income urban communities. Environmental Research Letters, 16 024033.
  • Wilby, R.L., Lu, X., Watkiss, P. and Rodgers, C.A. 2021. Towards pragmatism in climate risk analysis and adaptation. Water Policy, 23, 10–30.
  • Thompson, J.J., Wilby, R.L., Matthews, T.K.R. and Murphy, C. 2022. The utility of Google Trends as a tool for evaluating flooding in data-scarce places. Area, 54, 203-212.
  • Slater, L.J., Anderson, B., Buechel, M., Dadson, S., Han, S., Harrigan, S., Kelder, T., Kowal, K., Lees, T., Matthews, T., Murphy, C. and Wilby, R.L. 2021. Nonstationary weather and water extremes: a review of methods for their detection, attribution, and management. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 25, 3897-3935.
  • Wilby, R.L. and Johnson, M.F. 2020. Climate variability and implications for keeping rivers cool in England. Climate Risk Management, 30, 100259.
  • Wilby, R.L. 2020. Resilience viewed through the lens of climate change and water management. Water, 12, 2510.
  • Hillier, J., Matthews, T.K.R., Wilby, R.L. and Murphy, C. 2020. Multi-hazard dependencies can increase or decrease risk. Nature Climate Change, 10 595-598.