An external view of the Met Office building at night.

Dr Debbie O'Sullivan

Areas of expertise

  • Scientific instrumentation;

  • Analysis of aircraft / observational data;

  • Trace gas, radiation and water vapour measurements;

  • Atmospheric chemistry and aerosol;

  • Interaction of trace gases and aerosol with radiation.

Publications by Debbie

Current activities

Debbie uses observations from the FAAM BAe146-301 research aircraft to study the impact of aerosols on atmospheric radiation. These aircraft measurements are compared with radiative transfer models to assess the model's performance and achieve an improved understanding of aerosols and their radiative impacts. She also uses data from the aircraft instruments, and other aircraft, remote sensing and ground based instruments, to assess and characterize instrument performance.

Recently Debbie has been leading a small team working on the development of a robust calibration technique, and new processing software for the Short Wave Spectrometer (SWS) and Spectral Hemispheric Irradiance Measurements (SHIMS) instruments, which are used to measure radiation. She has also been working on fully documenting and characterising these instruments.

Another aspect of Debbie's work is to analyse data collected as part of the EUCAARI field campaign, LONGREX (LONG Range EXperiment) using aircraft data collected during May 2008. Debbie's contribution to this project is to investigate the radiative effects of different types of European aerosol, and impacts of that aerosol on climate and air quality. This work is being carried out in collaboration with scientists at the University of Reading Department of Meteorology and the University of Manchester Centre for Atmospheric Science.

Debbie also maintains a strong interest in atmospheric chemistry, with a particular interest in biogenic emissions and halogen chemistry. She has contacts within the UK and wider European atmospheric chemistry community and continues to advise external and internal research partners on halocarbon chemistry.

Career background

Debbie graduated from the University of East Anglia with a BSc Hons degree in environmental sciences in 2002, an MSc, with distinction, in atmospheric sciences in 2003, and a PhD in atmospheric chemistry in 2008. During her PhD she measured more than 40 halocarbons and other trace gases in air samples collected with the FAAM BAe146-301 aircraft. She used this aircraft data, in conjunction with meteorology and model data, to investigate temporal and spatial trends in trace gas mixing ratios, emission fluxes from the UK, and to study the impact of halogenated compounds on climate and ozone. During this project, she gained extensive knowledge on the role of halogenated compounds, hydrocarbons and highly reactive radical species in tropospheric and stratospheric chemistry and in aerosol formation.

Debbie joined the Met Office in 2007 where she initially worked on the development of new canisters for sampling atmospheric trace gases. She then used her atmospheric chemistry knowledge to play a key role in improving the performance of a highly sensitive fluorescence and absorption based instrument used to measure water vapour. In 2009 Debbie started her current role working part time in the instrument group and part time in the aerosol research group, both within Observation Based Research.