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Dr Natalie Lord

Dr Natalie Lord

Dr Natalie Lord
MSci(Bristol), PhD(Bristol)

Research Associate

Area of research

Modelling long-term past and future climate change

University Road,
Clifton, Bristol BS8 1SS
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My research focuses on modelling long-term past and future changes in climate that occur over tens to hundreds of thousands of years. On these timescales, variations in the three main orbital parameters (obliquity, precession and eccentricity) act as a significant forcing on climate. Changes in the natural carbon cycle also need to be considered, along with the impacts of future anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. In order to model climatic changes over such long timescales, I use a combination of Earth System Models of Intermediate Complexity (EMIC), General Circulation Models (GCM) and statistical models (impulse response function for CO2 and emulator).

My work primarily aims to produce projections of a range of possible future climate evolutions that are of relevance to the geological disposal of radioactive wastes. Due to the significant timescales involved in the decay of radioactivity to safe levels, the timescale of interest is the next ~1 million years, with a primary focus on the next 100,000-200,000 years. Climate projections at the regional or local scale can then be used to evaluate potential patterns of landscape development, and provide input to post-closure performance assessments for geological disposal facilities. I also apply the same modelling approaches to try to reproduce past changes in climates, particularly over the late Pliocene. These projections are used in model-data comparisons, and to investigate variations in orbital and greenhouse gas forcing on global and regional climate.

My PhD was funded by Radioactive Waste Management (RWM) via a framework contract with AMEC, who were supported by Quintessa. It contributed to Working Group 6 of the Modelling and Data for Radiological Impact Assessments (MODARIA) international research program, coordinated by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

My current research is jointly funded by Posiva Oy and SKB, and uses a combination of Earth system modelling efforts focussing on the Finnish and Swedish disposal sites of Olkiluoto and Forsmark. I have also co-written a review commissioned by the National Cooperative for the Disposal of Radioactive Wastes (Nagra), focusing on long-term past and future climate modelling in the context of geological evolution on timescales pertinent for waste repositories.


I am currently working as a Research Associate, having completed my PhD in 2017. My main research interests relate to how global and regional climates respond to changes in forcings over different time scales, and the potential consequences of these changes. I use a variety of different complexity climate models in my research, from General Circulation Models (GCMs) to statistical and conceptual models. Most recently, I have been investigating how extreme heat stress events in different regions may change over the coming decades following anthropogenic CO2 emissions, and the potential implications for society. My previous research has focussed on changes in climate occurring over hundreds of thousands of years in response to orbital and atmospheric CO2 forcing. This includes changes in both future climate, in order to assess the potential implications for post-closure performance assessments for disposal of radioactive wastes, and past climate, such as those that occurred over the last ~800 thousand years (Pleistocene). For past climates, the model results are compared to climate data from paleo proxies as a way of validating the modelling approaches used. I have also carried out research looking at the impacts that the spatial resolution of a GCM has on the representation of tropical cyclones.

Before joining the University of Bristol, I worked as an Assistant Data Manager at a site investigation/environmental consultancy company. My primary role involved developing the data management and graphical reporting software used by the company (gINT Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental software), as well as user support and troubleshooting, writing of technical documents, training and marketing.


I have a wide range of teaching experience, including lecturing on university courses and workshops, hosting tutorial sessions for small groups, assisting with teaching during computer practicals and fieldwork for various courses (ranging from year one up to Masters level), and marking of essays and oral presentations. For full details please see my personal website (link on Overview page).


  • Climate change
  • Future and paleo climate modelling
  • Nuclear waste disposal
  • Carbon cycle
  • Orbital forcing
  • Emulation

Recent publications

View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

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