Hubert Lamb

Hubert Lamb

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Hubert Horace Lamb was an English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 climatologist who founded the Climatic Research Unit
Climatic Research Unit
The Climatic Research Unit is a component of the University of East Anglia and is one of the leading institutions concerned with the study of natural and anthropogenic climate change....

 in 1972 in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia
University of East Anglia
The University of East Anglia is a public research university based in Norwich, United Kingdom. It was established in 1963, and is a founder-member of the 1994 Group of research-intensive universities.-History:...

.

Career


Most of Lamb's scientific life was spent at the Meteorological Office
Met Office
The Met Office , is the United Kingdom's national weather service, and a trading fund of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills...

, UK, where he started as a Technical Officer by special merit promotion. As a Quaker, Lamb refused to work on the meteorology of gas spraying during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, and was transferred to the Irish Meteorological Service, then still closely associated with the UK Met Office. On returning to the UK service after the war his responsibilities were in the fields of long range weather forecasting
Weather forecasting
Weather forecasting is the application of science and technology to predict the state of the atmosphere for a given location. Human beings have attempted to predict the weather informally for millennia, and formally since the nineteenth century...

, world climatology and climate change
Climate change
Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in average weather conditions or the distribution of events around that average...

. In this capacity he spent some years in Antarctica and in Malta
Malta
Malta , officially known as the Republic of Malta , is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, with Gibraltar to the west and Alexandria to the east.Malta covers just over in...

 and North Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

 and became a Member of the WMO
World Meteorological Organization
The World Meteorological Organization is an intergovernmental organization with a membership of 189 Member States and Territories. It originated from the International Meteorological Organization , which was founded in 1873...

 Working Group on Climate Fluctuations.

Lamb was one of the first to propose that climate could change within human experience, going against the orthodox view of the time that climate could be treated as constant for practical purposes. He developed early theories about the medieval warm period
Medieval Warm Period
The Medieval Warm Period , Medieval Climate Optimum, or Medieval Climatic Anomaly was a time of warm climate in the North Atlantic region, that may also have been related to other climate events around the world during that time, including in China, New Zealand, and other countries lasting from...

 and little ice age
Little Ice Age
The Little Ice Age was a period of cooling that occurred after the Medieval Warm Period . While not a true ice age, the term was introduced into the scientific literature by François E. Matthes in 1939...

, and became known as the "ice man" for his prediction of global cooling
Global cooling
Global cooling was a conjecture during the 1970s of imminent cooling of the Earth's surface and atmosphere along with a posited commencement of glaciation...

 and a coming ice age
Ice age
An ice age or, more precisely, glacial age, is a generic geological period of long-term reduction in the temperature of the Earth's surface and atmosphere, resulting in the presence or expansion of continental ice sheets, polar ice sheets and alpine glaciers...

. In 1965 he published his study on "The early medieval warm epoch and its sequel", based on "data from the realms of botany, historical document research and meteorology". His view was that "Evidence has been accumulating in many fields of investigation pointing to a notably warm climate in many parts of the world, that lasted a few centuries around A.D. 1000–1200, and was followed by a decline of temperature levels till between 1500 and 1700 the coldest phase since the last ice age occurred." The paper included a series of diagrams of temperatures in central England over the period, simplified in a 1982 version adjusted to account for "probable under-reporting of mild winters in Medieval times" and "certain botanical considerations" including historical records of vineyards in southern and eastern England. This version was featured in the IPCC First Assessment Report
IPCC First Assessment Report
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change first assessment report was completed in 1990, and served as the basis of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change ....

 of 1990, figure 7.1c on p. 202, as a "Schematic diagram of global temperature variations for the last thousand years."

Climatic Research Unit


In 1971 Lamb decided to base his pioneering research at a university, and he became the first Director of the Climatic Research Unit
Climatic Research Unit
The Climatic Research Unit is a component of the University of East Anglia and is one of the leading institutions concerned with the study of natural and anthropogenic climate change....

 established in 1972 in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia
University of East Anglia
The University of East Anglia is a public research university based in Norwich, United Kingdom. It was established in 1963, and is a founder-member of the 1994 Group of research-intensive universities.-History:...

. In 1973 and 1975 he arranged for two international conferences which were hosted in Norwich
Norwich
Norwich is a city in England. It is the regional administrative centre and county town of Norfolk. During the 11th century, Norwich was the largest city in England after London, and one of the most important places in the kingdom...

. At first his view was that global cooling
Global cooling
Global cooling was a conjecture during the 1970s of imminent cooling of the Earth's surface and atmosphere along with a posited commencement of glaciation...

 would lead within 10,000 years to a future ice age
Ice age
An ice age or, more precisely, glacial age, is a generic geological period of long-term reduction in the temperature of the Earth's surface and atmosphere, resulting in the presence or expansion of continental ice sheets, polar ice sheets and alpine glaciers...

, but over a period including the UK's exceptional drought and heat wave of 1975–76
1976 United Kingdom heat wave
The summer of 1976 was the hottest summer in the UK since records began. As well as the heat, Britain was in the middle of a severe drought.-Heatwave and drought effects:The temperature reached 80°F every day between 22 June and 16 July...

 he changed to predicting that global warming
Global warming
Global warming refers to the rising average temperature of Earth's atmosphere and oceans and its projected continuation. In the last 100 years, Earth's average surface temperature increased by about with about two thirds of the increase occurring over just the last three decades...

 could have serious effects within a century. His warnings of damage to agriculture, ice caps melting, and cities being flooded caught widespread attention and helped to shape public opinion. He gained the unit sponsorship from seven major insurance companies, who wanted to make use of the research of the unit when making their own studies of the implications of climate change for insurance against storm and flood damage. He retired from the unit in 1978, and his contributions to the unit were recognised in 1981 when he was granted an honorary Doctorate of Science.

In August 2006, the Climatic Research Unit
Climatic Research Unit
The Climatic Research Unit is a component of the University of East Anglia and is one of the leading institutions concerned with the study of natural and anthropogenic climate change....

 Building in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia
University of East Anglia
The University of East Anglia is a public research university based in Norwich, United Kingdom. It was established in 1963, and is a founder-member of the 1994 Group of research-intensive universities.-History:...

 was renamed the Hubert Lamb Building. In the same year Lamb was hailed as 'instrumental in establishing the study of climate change as a serious research subject' in a report listing the 'top 100 world-changing discoveries, innovations and research projects to come out of the UK universities in the last 50 years'.

Lamb was the grandson of the mathematician Horace Lamb
Horace Lamb
Sir Horace Lamb FRS was a British applied mathematician and author of several influential texts on classical physics, among them Hydrodynamics and Dynamical Theory of Sound...

, whose influence he credited for his early career at the Meteorological Office. His son Norman Lamb
Norman Lamb
Norman Peter Lamb is a British Liberal Democrat politician, and Chief Parliamentary and Political Adviser and Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg.He is the Member of Parliament for North Norfolk....

 is the MP for North Norfolk.

Books

  • Climate, History and the Modern World (ISBN 0-415-12735-1)
  • Climate Present Past and Future (ISBN 0-06-473881-7)

Awards

  • Symons Gold Medal of the Royal Meteorological Society
    Royal Meteorological Society
    The Royal Meteorological Society traces its origins back to 3 April 1850 when the British Meteorological Society was formed as a society the objects of which should be the advancement and extension of meteorological science by determining the laws of climate and of meteorological phenomena in general...

    , UK
  • Murchison Award
    Murchison Award
    The Murchison Award was first given by the Royal Geographical Society in 1882 for publications judged to have contributed most to geographical science in preceding recent years.-Recipients:* 1895 Eivind Astrup* 1898 Herbert Warrington Smyth...

     of the Royal Geographical Society
    Royal Geographical Society
    The Royal Geographical Society is a British learned society founded in 1830 for the advancement of geographical sciences...

    , UK
  • Vega Medal of the Swedish Geographical Society
    Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography
    The Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography is a scientific learned society founded in Sweden in 1877...

    .
  • EGS Honorary Membership 1997

External links