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Satellite retrievals of aerosols using infrared channels.

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  • Full or part time
    Dr N Bellouin
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Aerosols are the liquid and solid particles in suspension in the atmosphere. They are emitted into the atmosphere by natural processes, such as sea spray, sand storms, or volcanic eruptions, or by human activities, such as fossil fuel combustion or forest clearing fires. Aerosols have a variety of impacts on our lives: they degrade visibility and air quality and are hazardous to human health. They interact with sunlight, terrestrial radiation, and clouds, thus affect the Earth’s weather and climate. Furthermore, sand storms and volcanic ash pose a danger to aviation. For those reasons, there is a strong need for frequent, global observations of aerosol concentrations, sizes, and altitudes.

Satellite instruments are the best choice to monitor aerosol distributions, which vary strongly in time and space. Several dedicated satellite instruments offer aerosol retrievals, but typically rely on a limited set of methods using wavelengths in the visible spectrum. This project proposes to use longer wavelengths, in the infrared spectrum (see Figure), to develop a new method, based on innovative mathematical techniques, of quantifying aerosols and their main characteristics. Infrared wavelengths offer several advantages:

- They are particularly sensitive to the larger aerosols, such as mineral dust and volcanic ash;
- They can be used to estimate several aerosol characteristics, such as amount, size, and altitude;
- They can quantify aerosols during nighttime, while visible techniques are restricted to daytime conditions.

The new product will without doubt find a strong user base, from aerosol monitoring for air quality and aviation, to validation and initialisation of numerical weather and climate prediction models.

The project will be co-supervised by Jérôme Vidot (Centre de Météorologie Spatiale, DP/Météo-France) and Amos Lawless (Reading).

The full project description is available here

A video is also available at

Funding Notes

Project available for students with their own funding. To apply for this PhD project please visit

This project would be suitable for students with a Bachelor or Master degree in physics or mathematics.

How good is research at University of Reading in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 75.68

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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