Dr Neill Bowler

Neill works as manager of the data assimilation methods group, which looks to improve weather forecasts by improving techniques for assimilating observations.

Particular areas of focus for the data assimilation methods group are:

  • Improving the use of ensemble information within the data assimilation system. This includes the use of hybrid background covariance information in the current system, and the development of a new system to use the four-dimensional covariance information from the ensemble (known as 4DEnVar).
  • Development of the current data assimilation system (4D-Var) to improve its formulation and efficiency.
  • Improving the specification of background errors in 4D-Var.

Current activities

Neill's background lies in the generation of initial-condition perturbations for ensemble forecasts.  Ensemble forecasts are produced by running the forecast model a number of times, with slightly different starting conditions and small perturbations to the forecast model.  Neill's main activity in this area is to develop the capability of the new 4DEnVar system to generate initial conditions for ensemble forecasts.  In particular, he is looking at how to inflate the ensemble perturbations so that they fully cover the range of possible forecast outcomes.

Neill has also worked on the verification of forecasts, which involves comparing past forecasts with observations to assess how skilful the forecasts were. Neill's work covered a number of novel verification methods, particularly for probabilistic forecasts. Neill provides support for the ensemble prediction system used by other national Met services through the Unified Model collaboration.

Career background

Neill started work for the Met Office in 2001, looking at the precipitation nowcasting system. He was heavily involved in developing STEPS, the ensemble prediction system for precipitation nowcasts. In 2003, Neill moved to join ensemble forecasting research. Since 2011 Neill has worked as a scientific manager, initially of the ensemble data assimilation group.

Prior to joining the Met Office, Neill completed a PhD in Physics at the University of Warwick. This work was on the role of noise in optimisation problems and in diffusion-limited aggregation.

Last updated: 10 April 2014