Professor Tim Lenton

Tim Lenton

Former position

Turing Fellow

Partner Institution


Tim Lenton is Professor of Climate Change and Earth System Science at the University of Exeter and Director of the Global Systems Institute. He has over 20 years of research experience in studying the Earth as a system, and developing and using models to understand its behaviour.

He is particularly interested in how life has reshaped the planet in the past, and what lessons we can draw from this as we proceed to reshape the planet now. These topics are covered in his books ‘Earth System Science: A Very Short Introduction’ (OUP, 2016) and (with Andrew Watson) ’Revolutions that made the Earth’ (OUP, 2011).

Tim leads the University of Exeter’s Climate Change MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), which has attracted over 60,000 learners worldwide since its launch in 2014.

Research interests

Tim is particularly interested in how data science and artificial intelligence can be used to help create a more sustainable future for 9-11 billion people on this finite planet. He recently introduced the possibility of ‘Gaia 2.0’ – humans adding some self-aware feedback to the Earth’s self-regulation. Sensor technology and machine learning will be crucial if we are to achieve that.

Achievements and awards

Tim’s work identifying climate tipping points and developing early warning methods for them won the Times Higher Education Award for Research Project of the Year. He has also received a Philip Leverhulme Prize 2004, a European Geosciences Union Outstanding Young Scientist Award 2006, the British Association Charles Lyell Award Lecture 2006 and the Geological Society of London William Smith Fund 2008. Tim is a Fellow of the Linnean Society, the Geological Society and the Society of Biology and he holds a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award (2013).