Firegroup seminar: Prof. Hugh Coe, University of Manchester


Seminar room 3.01, Alexander Graham Bell building, King's Buildings


Friday, November 28, 2014 - 13:00 to 14:00

Understanding Atmospheric particulate from Biomass burning and its influence on weather and climate.


Biomass burning aerosol (BBA) exerts a considerable impact on regional radiation budgets in the atmosphere as it significantly perturbs the surface fluxes and atmospheric heating rates and its cloud nucleating properties perturb cloud microphysics and hence affect cloud radiative properties, precipitation and cloud lifetime. It is likely that such large influences on heating rates and clouds will affect regional weather predictions in addition to climatic changes. It is increasingly recognised that biomass burning affects the biosphere but the magnitude of the effects need to quantified. However, BBA is a complex and poorly understood aerosol species because of the mixing of the black carbon with organic and inorganic species.  Furthermore, emission rates are poorly quantified and difficult to represent in models.

It is now timely to address these challenges as both measurement methods and model capabilities have developed rapidly over the last few years and are now sufficiently advanced that the processes and properties of BBA can be sufficiently constrained by measurements; these can be used to challenge the new aerosol schemes used in numerical weather prediction (NWP) and climate models.

This talk will present an overview of why biomass burning aerosol is important in the atmosphere on local and global scales and then discuss recent results from chamber studies of biomass burning emissions and also from field studies from a range of different biomass burning types.  A recent major field study, focussing on wildfires in the Amazon region of Brazil, will be used to examine the effects of the fuel type and fire state on aerosol generation from fires.  The talk will discuss how biomass burning aerosol age in the near field of fires and will describe the far field properties of the aerosol and their influence on regional weather and the atmospheric radiation budget.  The talk will describe how models carrying detailed process descriptions of biomass burning aerosols are being challenged with the new, comprehensive observations being made to evaluate model performance and to improve parameterisations. The talk will also show how Numerical Weather Prediction and Climate model simulations with a range of complexity and spatial resolution are being used to investigate the ways in which absorbing aerosol may influence dynamics and climate on regional and wider scales.


Hugh Coe has been Professor of Atmospheric Composition at The University of Manchester since 2006.  He previously held academic positions in the Physics Department of UMIST and research positions in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia.  He leads a research group of around 10 PDRAs and PhD students studying a wide range of poorly quantified atmospheric processes involving aerosols and clouds that are important for improving predictions of air quality and climate.  His group has conducted a series of innovative field measurements using a range of analytical tools, sampling from ground based, ship-borne and aircraft platforms.  He has published over 180 peer reviewed papers in foremost journals and currently holds grants with a value in excess of £3M.  He has led scientific missions to study biomass burning and dust over Africa; strato-cumulus clouds over the south-east Pacific Ocean and pollution aerosol across Europe in recent years and has developed a number of new technologies for real-time analysis of atmospheric particles.  Most recently he is leading a £3.7M Natural Environment Research Council Consortium Grant to investigate the atmospheric impacts of biomass burning particles as a part of a joint project with the UK Met Office; INPE (PI: Dr Karla Longo); and the University of Sao Paulo (PI: Professor Paulo Artaxo), his Brazilian partners being funded through FAPESP.  He is the PI of the joint NERC-Indian Ministry of Earth Sciences programme to study the “Drivers of Variability in the Indian Monsoon” a joint £2M programme to study pollution influences on the climate of the region.

He was a co-Director for the NERC National Centre for Atmospheric Sciences (NCAS) with a remit covering airborne scientific operations until 2013.   He is a member of the NERC/Met Office Joint Facilities Group.  In 2010 he was a member of the UK Government Chief Scientist’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) following the recent Eyafyallajokull volcanic eruption, having made a number of observations of volcanic ash during the eruption from the air.  He was a Science Board member for the US Department of Energy Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Climate Research facility (ACRF) from 2010 to 2014.

Hugh has been the Head of School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences at The University of Manchester since December 2010.  The School has 47 full time academic staff and maintains internationally leading research in the disciplines of Basins Studies and Petroleum Geoscience; Atmospheric Science; Isotope Geochemistry and Cosmochemistry; Environmental Geochemistry and Geomicrobiology; Physics and Chemistry of Minerals and Fluids; Structural and Petrological Geoscience and Palaeontology supported through a research income of around £6.3M per annum.  The School offers a wide range of undergraduate programmes in Geology, Environmental Science and Petroleum Engineering and hosts Masters programmes in Pollution and Environmental Control and our internationally leading Petroleum Geoscience programme.  The School currently has 400 undergraduate, 90 postgraduate masters students and 100 PhD students from a wide range of backgrounds and nationalities.

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Martyn McLaggan

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