Observation-Based Research in the Met Office: Airborne and Ground-Based Studies

Time: 13:00 - 14.00

Venue: Williamson Building G.03 Lecture Theatre

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Speaker: Debbie O'Sullivan (UK Met Office)

Observation-Based Research (OBR) comprises two teams based at Exeter and Cardington. They share the objective of using high-quality research-grade observations to study key physical processes in the atmosphere and at the land surface. The results of these studies are used to improve the parametrization of these processes in the Met Office Unified Model, which is used for both operational weather forecasting and climate studies.
Airborne research in the Met Office goes back to the middle years of the Second World War. A brief history of some of the important milestones since that time will be given. Presently, the team at Exeter comprises groups studying cloud microphysics, aerosol and atmospheric radiative transfer. Some recent highlights of their work will be described. These will include studies of the development of ice in convective clouds, the radiative properties of biomass-burning and desert-dust aerosols and studies of the surface energy budget in semi-arid regions and the impact on land-surface temperature forecasting.
These groups are supported by a team that develops and maintains a number of unique instruments and systems. These include ISMAR (International Sub-Millimetre Airborne Radiometer), a development demonstrator for a future satellite system, and EXSCALABAR, a new system for the combined measurement of aerosol light-scattering and absorption.
Ground-based observations from Cardington have a similarly long history going back to the operation of large airships from there. Measurements from tethered balloons were extended in the 1970s to include turbulence sensors and cloud droplet measurements. New generations of these have been developed together with mast- and surface-mounted systems and can be deployed locally or on field campaigns for the study of the atmospheric boundary layer and its evolution. A particular current emphasis is on visibility and fog formation.

Phil Brown biography: Phil joined the Met Office in 1978 and has worked with airborne research observations throughout his career. At the Meteorological Research Flight (MRF), Farnborough, he studied mountain lee waves over the UK. He then joined the Cloud Physics research branch at Bracknell studying secondary ice nucleation in convective clouds around the UK and continuing the development of a holographic cloud particle imager.

In 1992, Phil joined the Joint Centre for Mesoscale Meteorology at Reading University, helping to develop the Large Eddy Model to study convective clouds and precipitation processes and on early assessments of the capability of spaceborne cloud radar. He contributed to a number of cloud-scale modelling case studies.
Returning to the observational world in 2000, Phil has continued to work on the measurement of cloud microphysical and dynamical properties as part of Observation Based Research. He has been involved with a number of international field measurement campaigns, initially with the Met Office's C-130 aircraft and subsequently the FAAM aircraft. These include ICE (1989), EUCREX (1993), RICO (2005), VOCALS-REx (2008), and COPE (2013). He is currently Scientific and Transnational Access Coordinator of the EUFAR research aircraft network.