Houghton Lecture - Stephen Belcher (Met Office)

The Fall 2017 Houghton Lecturer, Stephen Belcher, will be giving a series of lectures beginning on October 4, 2017.

As Chief Scientist, Prof. Stephen Belcher has overall responsibility for the leadership and management of the Met Office’s scientific programme, by providing strategic direction, ensuring high quality delivery and nurturing scientific excellence. He represents the Met Office on science and research technology to UK Government, ensuring that the Met Office science programme fits properly into the wider UK environmental science landscape.

Professor Stephen Belcher obtained his PhD in fluid dynamics from the University of Cambridge in 1990 and has subsequently published over 100 peer-reviewed papers on the fluid dynamics of atmospheric and oceanic turbulence. Having completed his PhD he became a research fellow at Stanford and Cambridge Universities. In 1994 he moved to the Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading, where he served as Head of the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences between 2007 and 2010.  In 2010 he became the Joint Met Office Chair in Weather Systems. This role gave him a taster of working closely with the Met Office, and in 2012 he joined the Met Office as Director of the Met Office Hadley Centre.

Stephen led the evolution of the Met Office Hadley Centre to focus on climate science and services: motivated by the need to provide governments, industry and society with actionable advice, i.e. ‘climate services’. He was a driving force behind the initiation of the Newton Fund Climate Science for Service Partnership China (CSSP China), in which scientists from both China and the UK are now working together to develop fundamental climate science and climate services.

Lecture Topics:

1) Fundamentals of turbulence and the atmospheric boundary layer. Wednesday, Oct. 4, 12:00pm (54-1623).

The atmospheric boundary layer occupies the lowest kilometre of the atmosphere and is responsible for controlling the transport of heat moisture and momentum between the surface and the free atmosphere above. The theoretical challenge comes from the turbulence in the boundary layer. In this lecture I shall present observations, computations and theory for the fundamental aspects of the atmospheric boundary layer.

2) Weather and climate in cities. Friday, Oct. 6, 12pm (54-915).

Cities strongly affect local meteorology, and are also where the majority of the world's population now live. These applications have driven a huge interest in identifying and quantifying the physical processes that drive the urban atmospheric boundary layer. In this lecture I shall present observations and theory that identify the key mechanisms, and then describe how cities are represented in contemporary weather and climate models.

3) The ocean surface boundary layer (Special PAOC Colloquium). Wednesday, Oct. 11, 12:00pm (54-915)

The ocean surface boundary layer (OSBL) occupies the upper 100m or so of the oceans and is responsible for controlling the transport of heat and momentum from the atmosphere into the deeper ocean, and plays a major role in regulating plankton communities. Recent observations and simulations are revolutionising our picture of the OSBL, and reveal that the surface waves on the ocean surface fundamentally change the physics of the OSBL. In this lecture I shall present new observations, theory and modelling and new ideas for representing the OSBL in models, which has the potential to correct long standing biases in the climate models.

4) What does the Met Office Chief Scientist do all day? (Informal discussion session). Thursday, Oct. 12, 2:00pm (54-915).

The Met Office is the UK's national met service providing operational weather forecasts, advice in emergency response for example to releases of toxic material, and hosts the Met Office Hadley Centre which develops climate science and climate services. As Met Office Chief Scientist I am responsible for leading the 500 scientists at the Met Office, and for representing the work of the Met Office into UK Government and beyond. In this informal session I will give a brief introduction to what I do, and then open up to questions and an informal discussion of the work being done by student members of the audience.

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