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Chris Barrell

Chris BarrellA Picture of Chris Barrell



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I have chosen to focus my study on climate change as I feel a strong commitment to tackle global warming to protect human lives and the environment. Currently working for a PhD in Arctic Meteorology, I hope to contribute to the improvement of the representation of the Arctic region in weather and climate prediction models.

My university education began with a BSc in Renewable Energy at the University of Exeter. For my dissertation I designed and assessed the feasibility of a renewable energy scheme at Glenshee Ski Centre, Scotland. Throughout the course I learnt much about the stark reality of climate change and felt driven to study this further. This led to my MSc in Climate Change at the University of East Anglia. The inception of my master’s thesis projecting changing snow over Scotland with climate change was driven by my interest in UK winter weather and my realisation of the fragility of the Scottish Highland environment during my bachelor’s dissertation. This project fueled my interest in polar meteorology and climate with a determination to pursue a research career in this field.


Current Research

Investigating cold-air outbreaks over the subpolar seas


The aim of my research is to improve the representation of cold-air outbreaks in the UK Meteorological Office’s Unified Model (MetUM) for operational weather forecasting, seasonal forecasting and climate modelling. Over the subpolar seas cold-air outbreaks commonly affect UK winter weather. They are also important within the climate system affecting sea-ice formation and driving ocean convection, playing a significant role in creating dense water masses that feed into the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, a key component of the global ocean circulation system.


In my project I will be investigating cold-air outbreaks using a number of case studies gathered from aircraft-based and ship-based field campaigns. I will be running the MetUM at high resolution to simulate these cases and making use of the in-situ observations to challenge the model forecasts. I will be testing various new model parameterizations, for example, testing the ‘blended’ 3D/1D turbulence scheme; testing new developments in cloud microphysics parameterization; and simulating cloud streets. I will also be joining the Iceland-Greenland Seas Project, part of the Year of Polar Prediction project, on a field campaign making new boundary-layer observations over the Iceland Sea.


Supervisory Team


Professor Ian Renfrew (Primary)

Dr Andrew Elvidge

Dr John King

Dr Steve Abel