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Willis Chair in Climate and Weather Risk for Insurance Announced at Walker Institute, University of Reading

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Posted on 18 May 10

University of Reading’s Walker Institute and the Willis Research Network (WRN), part of Willis Group Holdings, the global insurance broker, announced today the creation of a new Chair, 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 revolutionise the way the insurance industry sees and responds to environmental risk in future years. 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.

This new Chair joins the growing 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, says: “We’re delighted 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 welcomed the announcement: “The Willis Chair at Reading emphasises 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.”

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, said, “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.”

The Laboratory works with renowned 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.

About Willis

Willis Group Holdings plc is a leading global insurance broker, developing and delivering professional insurance, reinsurance, risk management, financial and human resource consulting and actuarial services to corporations, public entities and institutions around the world. Willis has more than 400 offices in nearly 120 countries, with a global team of approximately 17,000 employees serving clients in virtually every part of the world. Additional information on Willis may be found at www.willis.com.


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