Robert Neal

Robert develops post-processing systems and products for high impact weather.

Current activities

Robert post-processes data from numerical models covering a number of forecast lead times - from a just a few days ahead out to a month in advance. His current focus of work is on the societal risk from the impact of weather, of which probabilistic forecasts based on ensemble prediction systems is a key tool. Some specific projects are described below.

Weather regime forecasts

Development and maintenance of a weather regime forecast tool called Decider. This tool was upgraded in 2015 to use a new set of 30 and 8 pre-defined regimes. Multiple forecast scenarios from ensembles are assigned to the closest matching regime definition, providing a probabilistic insight into which regimes are most likely within the forecast range. This summarises key aspects from the large volumes of data which ensembles provide. Once regime characteristics are understood, in terms of their climatologies or impacts, it then becomes relatively easy to interpret forecast output and describe likely consequences.

Now this system is up and running, research is focusing on how these medium to long-range weather regime forecasts can be applied to specific high impact applications. So far this has included:

  • A forecast tool designed for use by the Flood Forecasting Centre called Coastal Decider. This tool gives the probability of a heightened risk of high impact coastal flooding associated with the occurrence specific weather regimes.
  • A "flow from Iceland" decision aid for meteorologists which provides a rapid assessment of the risk of volcanic ash originating over Iceland being transported into UK airspace.

First guess warnings

Development of a risk-based probabilistic first-guess early warning system for severe weather to support the impact based National Severe Weather Warning Service (NSWWS). This system presents ensemble information to forecasters in a user-friendly format which mimics the NSWWS colour states, taking account of the expected impact of weather as well as likelihood. These first guess warnings are also objectively verified with recent results showing the benefit of high resolution ensemble forecasts.

Robert has also contributed towards research looking into the use of the "NSWWS impact approach" for issuing heat and cold health first guess warnings, where impact thresholds are based on epidemiological data.

Maintenance and upgrades to Met Office ensemble post-processing systems

Routine maintenance and upgrades to Met Office ensemble post-processing systems, including testing model upgrades during parallel suites.

Career background

Robert completed a BSc in Geography (2004 - 2007) and an MSc in Applied Meteorology and Climatology (2007 - 2008), both at the University of Birmingham.

Before starting his MSc, Robert spent three months working for Vaisala servicing roadside weather stations, which are used by local authorities to determine when to grit roads in winter.

Robert joined the Met Office in 2008 where he started work in one of the post-processing teams, generating forecast products from ensemble prediction systems. Since 2012, Robert's work has shifted slightly with a greater focus on forecast decision tools in support of high impact weather.

Last updated: 5 February 2016

About Robert Neal

Robert Neal

Robert develops post-processing systems and products for high impact weather.

Areas of expertise

  • Post-processing of gridded ensemble outputs for high impact weather.
  • The application of weather regimes in medium to long-range forecasts.
  • Communication of uncertainty in weather forecasts.
  • Risk based forecasts (combining probability and impact).

Publications by Robert Neal

Email robert.neal@metoffice.gov.uk