Dr Claire Ryder
NERC Independent Research Fellow
I am delighted to have recently been awarded a NERC Independent Research Fellowship, starting in July 2015, entitled, "The Role of Coarse Mineral Dust in the Climate System." This will be a 5 year research position held at the Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading, in order to fully exploit the new in-situ measurements of coarse and giant mineral dust particles measured over the Sahara during Fennec (June 2011 and 2012), and also over the Atlantic Ocean during ICE-D (August 2015). My research will involve detailed analysis of dust size, chemical, morphological and optical properties, radiative closure under high loadings of dust, application of the dust properties to satellite retrievals, and a regional and global estiamte of the radiative effect due to coarse dust particles.
I am a Research Fellow in the Meteorology Department at the University of Reading. I work on the optical properties and radiative effects of atmospheric aerosols in order to improve our understanding of how they impact our climate. In order to do this I use a combination of aircraft in-situ and radiometric measurements, scattering and radiation models, and climate models. I am particularly interested in mineral dust, biomass burning aerosol and urban aerosol pollution. Why should we care?!
Till June 2015 I have been working on the SAMBBA (South American Biomass Burning Analysis) project, where I am examining the impacts of biomass burning aerosol on the semi-direct effect (i.e. whether the aerosol may prevent/encourage cloud to form by heating the atmosphere), and how this is sensitive to the optical properties of the aerosol. These effets are important to understand since the optical properties of biomass burning aerosol are likely to vary with vegetation and burning type across South America, and also with time.
Previously I worked on the Fennec Project, which aims to examine the Saharan Heat Low and mineral dust aerosol, with a focus on intensive aircraft, ground-based and satellite observations in June 2011 and 2012. During the research flights over the Sahara, we measured particularly large dust particles up to very high altitudes - larger and higher than expected. Read more here.
Aerosols, small particles in the atmosphere, such as dust, soot or pollution, can be found all over the world in varying amounts. One effect these particles have is to reflect sunlight back out to space. This can heat up the atmosphere, and cool or warm the surface of the planet, depending on the properties of the particles. Thus aerosols can have an impact on weather and climate. Understanding these processes is not always straightforward or well understood, and therefore it's important to do more research to try and improve our understanding.
Have a look at some articles I've written for the department about aerosols in recent years.