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Remote sensing measurements of the atmospheric boundary layer

Supervised by Prof Geraint Vaughan of the School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences

The atmospheric boundary layer is the region of the atmosphere in direct contact with the ground – this is where air pollution has its greatest impact and where heat and moisture from the Earth’s surface enters the atmosphere. It is a layer characterised by turbulence, where good measurements are required to understand the processes involved. It is becoming increasingly apparent that measurements from the ground, or on towers, are insufficient to constrain models of the boundary layer, and that novel techniques for remote sensing are required.
The Centre for Atmospheric Sciences is a leading group in the development and use of active remote sensing – radar and lidar (like radar but using lasers) – see http://tinyurl.com/77h9u2. We have mobile lidars and a mobile radar wind profiler, and have powerful fixed lidars at the Capel Dewi field site near Aberystwyth in mid-Wales (http://tinyurl.com/a4kjtm) when the UK’s most powerful radar wind profiler is located.
The project has a number of strands which can be adapted to suit the aptitude and interest of potential students:

Allied to these measurements will modelling work using a range of meteorological models available under the aegis of the National Centre for Atmospheric Sciences.


  1. G. Vaughan, D. P. Wareing, S. J. Pepler, L. Thomas, V. Mitev. Atmospheric temperature measurements by rotational Raman scattering. Applied Optics, 32, 2758-64, 1993.
  2. E. G. Norton, G. Vaughan, J. Methven, H. Coe, B. Brooks, M. Gallagher and I. Longley. Boundary layer structure and decoupling from synoptic scale flow during NAMBLEX. Atmos. Chem. Phys. 6, 433-445, 2006.
  3. D. N. Whiteman Examination of the Traditional Raman Lidar Technique. II. Evaluating the Ratios for Water Vapor and Aerosols. Applied Optics, 42, 2593-2608, 2003.

PhD project description

Research in the lab

The project descriptions on these pages are provided to give applicants a flavour of what research study is possible. Unless otherwise stated, funding may be available but is not guaranteed until an application form has been submitted to the related School and a funded offer made to the applicant in writing.