Dr Richard Cotton

Richard studies cloud microphysics focusing on ice nucleation and ice-phase evolution, using data obtained from the FAAM BAe146 research aircraft.

Current activities

Richard is currently involved in the CONSTRAIN project, a field campaign using the BAe146-301 aircraft that was based in Prestwick during early 2010. Various cloud regions in which certain cloud microphysical processes are dominant were measured using a wide range of cloud particle probes. These in-situ measurements, together with additional data from the operational weather radar network and high resolution simulations using the Unified Model conducted by the Cloud-Scale Modelling group of Parametrizations will be used to improve various ice-phase parametrizations used in numerical modelling. CONSTRAIN was a Met Office project with instrumentation support from the University of Manchester.

Richard is leading the development of a new instrument to measure ice nucleating aerosol (IN). This will cover a wider range of temperature and humidity, have greater sensitivity and be capable of more automatic operation compared to the first generation instrument. The IN instrument will be installed on the BAe146-301 aircraft, but will also be operated for ground-based measurements.

Richard is studying the microphysics of convective clouds using aircraft data and Large Eddy Model simulations to understand the interaction of ice nucleation, liquid-phase precipitation and secondary ice multiplication. A key question is whether there is an advantage in using an explicit representation of ice nuclei rather than the more usual parametrized one.

Richard is responsible for the analysis of data from the Small Ice Detector (SID-2), developed by the University of Hertfordshire. SID-2 is a cloud particle probe which can size and discriminate liquid and ice particles using light scattering.

Career background

Richard graduated from Brunel University with a first class B.Sc. Hons. degree in Applied Physics in 1990. He then completed a PhD in experimental particle physics in 1994, also at Brunel University. The thesis title was 'The identification of b-quark events from the Z0 decay using the SLD vertex detector', and involved, as part of a group based at Rutherford Appleton laboratory, the design and installation of the vertex detector at the SLAC collider and the initial data analysis. Richard then spent five years as a research scientist, based at Rutherford Appleton laboratory in the Soudan-2 particle physics group. During this time, he was involved in the measurement of the atmospheric neutrino flavour composition using the Soudan-2 calorimeter which was based in the Soudan mine in Minnesota.

Richard joined the Met Office in 1999 and worked in the Meteorological Research Flight (MRF) cloud physics group, based at Farnborough. Richard was involved in the INTACC (Interaction of Aerosol and Cold Clouds) experiment using the Met Office C-130 aircraft and studied the ice nucleation processes occurring in the cloud systems using a detailed parcel model.

Richard has been involved in a number of experiments based at the Aerosol Interactions and Dynamics of the Atmosphere ( AIDA) facility at Karlsruhe, the most recent being the International Workshop on Comparing Ice Nucleation Measuring Systems (ICIS-2007).

Last updated: 8 April 2014

About Richard Cotton

Dr Richard Cotton

Richard studies microphysical processes in ice clouds using aircraft observations.

Areas of expertise:

  • Airborne cloud physics measurements;

  • Cloud-scale numerical modelling;

  • Ice Nucleus measurements;

  • Field campaign planning.

Publications by Richard