Willis Funds New Professorship for Climate, Weather Risk Insurance

May 17, 2010

The University of Reading’s Walker Institute and the Willis Research Network (WRN), part of Willis Group Holdings, have announced the creation of a new Chair [Professorship], the Willis Professor of Climate and Weather Risk for Insurance, at the university’s Climate Modeling and Risk Laboratory.

“High-resolution climate and weather modeling is set to revolutionize the way the insurance industry sees and responds to environmental risk in future years,” said Willis’ bulletin. “The practical integration of this emerging science to support effective insurance, risk management and public policy decision-making is a key objective of this post.”

The new Chair joins a growing number of Willis-supported Climate Modeling & Risk Laboratory at Reading, “which includes WRN members Professor Pier Luigi Vidale, Dr Len Shaffrey and Dr Jane Strachan.”

Professor Nigel Arnell, Director of the Walker Institute, expressed his delight that the “first Willis Research Network-sponsored Professor will be here at the Walker Institute. We’re a world leader in understanding climate change and extreme events. Working collaboratively with the insurance industry means we can effectively apply our knowledge to help manage current and changing climate risks.”

Dr. Greg Holland, Director of the US National Center for Atmosphere Earth System Laboratory and a Willis Senior Researcher also welcomed the announcement. “The Willis Chair at Reading emphasizes the commitment that Willis Re has made to supporting research aimed at reducing the impacts of weather and climate for our increasingly vulnerable global societies,” he stated.

Willis explained that “high-resolution climate modeling simulates the complex interaction between the world’s oceans, atmosphere and land surfaces to predict weather patterns and long-term climate shifts. This ground-breaking technique, used in conjunction with some of the world’s largest supercomputers, liberates scientists and policy makers from the limitations of relying on historical data alone to gain a further insight into the likely location, frequency and severity of extreme events, such as intense hurricanes or severe European storms.”

Rowan Douglas, CEO, Global Analytics, Willis Re and Chairman of the Willis Research Network, pointed out that the “financial security which regulators and rating agencies now seek from insurance companies and financial institutions requires our industry to work with leaders of the international scientific community to understand the hazards we face. We know high-resolution climate modeling is a cornerstone of that process and we are delighted to extend our support of this critical area of public science.”

Willis also indicated that the “Laboratory works with WRN weather and climate modeling members in the UK, US and Asia Pacific and leading international insurers and reinsurers. WRN scientists represent the largest working group in the emerging field of climate modeling, risk and finance.

“Worldwide applications for the Willis-funded Chair are invited from qualified individuals from academia, industry and the public sector. Further details on the Chair and application information may be obtained at: https://www.reading.ac.uk/about/jobs/docs/CH10007.pdf .

Source: Willis

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