We carry out research into the processes that control the evolution and predictability of weather, from hours to days.
Using a combination of numerical weather prediction modelling and field experiments we conduct research into atmospheric dynamics, such as the movement of storms and jet streams, and into physical processes such as clouds, rainfall and land-atmosphere interactions.
We are also developing new research into high resolution modelling and data assimilation at the convective scale as well as ground-based remote sensing. Alongside our core research we also tackle problems of concern to society. For instance, we investigate meteorological processes that determine air quality, from dispersion by urban turbulence in a street, to weather systems that transport pollutants over large distances.
We model and observe severe weather events, such as intense convection and weather systems. Our expertise has recently grown in areas of environmental prediction, such as hydrology and flooding, urban meteorology, and energy meteorology.
We also investigate processes relevant to aviation meteorology, including turbulence and volcanic ash. Reading has a key longstanding academic partnership with the Met Office, which helps us further our research into weather process. Several of our postdoctoral staff are funded by the Atmospheric Physics Weather Directorate of the National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS).
Smooth and safer flying
Aviation turbulence can now be predicted up to 18 hours ahead, resulting in smoother flights for billions of passengers and helping to cut carbon dioxide emissions thanks to Professor Paul Williams’ research. His work was recognised as runner-up for the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Societal Impact award.Find out more about this research.
Tackling volcanic ash damage risk
Volcanic ash causes serious damage to aircraft. Dr Helen Dacre’s research looks at how to build resilience to this hazard by making more confident predictions about the potential harmful effects of volcanic ash from eruptions, such as the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull volcano eruption in Iceland which caused closure of European airspace for weeks. Helen and colleagues are working with Rolls Royce, CAA, the Met office and some airline operators on new ash concentration charts to help calculate ash dosage and more accurately predict the risk of aircraft damage after a volcanic ash incident – a new requirement of European Aviation Safety Agency regulations. Read more about Dr Dacre’s research into volcanic ash hazard.
Predicting 'sting jets'
Since 2001, researchers from the Research Division have carried out a retrospective analysis of data from the Great Storm of October 1987. Results have led to identifying and understanding a region of extremely strong winds within some storms - known as 'sting jets' that can cause considerable damage. Working with the Met Office, our researchers have developed ways to identify sting jets in current and imminent weather along with methods to forecast these events up to several days in advance. Our techniques are now used in the UK National Severe Weather Warning Service (NSWWS) and in European storm forecasts. The improved warnings of extreme winds have saved lives, minimised disruption and generated considerable cost savings. Find out more .
Flooding from intense rainfall
Day, J.J., Holland, M.M., Hodges, K.I. (2018)Seasonal differences in the response of Arctic cyclones to climate change in CESM1 Climate Dynamics
Williams, P. D. (2017) Increased light, moderate, and severe clear-air turbulence in response to climate change. Advances in Atmospheric Sciences
Emerton, R., Cloke, H.L., Stephens, E.M., Zsoter, E., Woolnough, S.J., Pappenberger, F. Woolnough, Steven J. Complex picture for likelihood of ENSO-driven flood hazard Nature Communications
Priestley, M.D.K., Pinto, J.G., Dacre, H.F., Shaffrey, L.C. Dacre, Helen F. (2017)Rossby wave breaking, the upper level jet, and serial clustering of extratropical cyclones in western Europe . Geophysical Research Letters
Castro, I.P., Xie, Z.-T., Fuka, V., Robins, A.G., Carpentieri, M., Hayden, P., Hertwig, D.,Coceal, O. (2017) Measurements and Computations of Flow in an Urban Street System. Boundary-Layer Meteorology
Priestley, M.D.K., Pinto, J.G., Dacre, H.F., Shaffrey, L.C. Dacre, Helen F. (2017)The role of cyclone clustering during the stormy winter of 2013/2014 . Weather
- Free Open Online Course: Our Changing Climate: Past, Present and Future
- Free Open Online Course: Come rain or shine: Understanding the weather
- Public engagement
- Weather data from Reading University Atmospheric Laboratory