Professor Philip Stier and Karman vortices

Professor Philip Stier: climate and the clouds

Climate physics
Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics
Professor Philip Stier
Professor Philip Stier

In recent years, climate concerns have shot up the political agenda but not long ago environmentalists, who warned about the impact of human activity on the planet, were generally seen as fringe or even eccentric figures. Oxford professor, Philip Stier, is now at the forefront of climate science, as a leading researcher into clouds. He was very much ahead of the curve, but is the complete antithesis of the eccentric academic. 

As a schoolboy in Germany in the 1990s, he was worried about the environment, so worried he had a file where he would keep the newspaper stories which appeared from time to time. And, while his friends cruised to school by car, he doggedly rode his bike past them, as they climbed into their cars, and went to the station and where he would take a train to class. It took a bit longer and was a bit less comfortable. His friends thought he was a bit mad. But, he recalls, ‘I was agitated about climate, even then.’

In the days before social media, though, there was little interest in what one school child had to say about climate change. And, when the young Philip announced he wanted study climate at university, his friends and even some family, thought there was little future in it.