Sir John Houghton MAE 1931–2020

Sir John Houghton MAE 1931–2020

Renowned atmospheric physicist, expert on climate change, and Welsh Member of Academia Europaea, Sir John Houghton CBE FRS FLSW MAE, has died, aged 88

Born in Dyserth, raised in Rhyl and educated at Jesus College,Oxford, Sir John Houghton became Professor at the University of Oxford in 1976. His specialist fields were climate change and atmospheric physics.

In 1983, Sir John became Director General for the UK Meteorological Office, later becoming Chief Executive. He was the Chairman/co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) scientific assessment working group which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize  with Al Gore. He was also founder and Honorary Scientist of the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research at the Meteorological Office. Sir John was one of the founding fellows of the Learned Society of Wales. Brought up as an evangelical Christian by devout Christian parents, he was also a founding member of the International Society for Science and Religion.

Sir John’s achievements were many. Amongst others, he received the Albert Einstein World Award of Science in 2009, the Japan Prize in 2006 and was knighted in 1991. Vice-President of Academia Europaea, Professor Ole Petersen said,

“Sir John Houghton FRS was a world-renowned eminent scientist. In 2006, Sir John received the Japan Prize, one of the most important international prizes for scientific achievements “For pioneering research on atmospheric structure and composition based on his satellite observation technology and for promotion of international assessments of climate change”. Sir John received the prize in Tokyo, but the Japanese Ambassador to the UK decided also to mark the event in the UK and therefore held a rather grand reception at his residence in London in honour of Sir John. As Vice-President of the Royal Society at that time, it was my privilege to represent the Society on that occasion and congratulate Sir John on his singular achievement.” 

Sir John was elected to the Academia Europaea in 1989 making him one of the Academy’s earliest members.

John Houghton passed away on 15th April 2020, aged 88, following complications from COVID-19. Our thoughts and condolences are with his family and friends.

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23rd April 2020. For further information please contact

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