An external view of the Met Office building at night.

Dr Heather Lawrence

Areas of expertise

  • Data Assimilation.
  • Dust and aerosol observations.
  • Microwave satellite sounding and imaging data.
  • Land/ocean surface radiative transfer modelling.

Current activities

Heather’s work focuses on maintaining and improving the use of observations for atmospheric dust forecasts in the Met Office's Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) system. This includes developing the use of new satellite observations and improving assimilation approaches.  Currently she is focusing on evaluating and testing the Suomi-NPP VIIRS Aerosol Optical Depth data with the aim to implement this instrument in the operational system.

Career background

Heather joined the Met Office in December 2019. Before this she worked at the European Centre for Medium-Range Forecasts (ECMWF) for 6 years, focusing on the assimilation of microwave satellite sounding and imaging instruments in NWP. Highlights include: implementing the assimilation of the FY-3C MWHS-2 instrument, developing a new observation error model for the AMSU-A instrument, an assessment of FY-3C MWRI, implementing constrained Variational Bias Correction for AMSU-A (channel 14) and evaluating the impacts of the global observing system in the Arctic for the APPLICATE project.

Heather obtained a BA and Masters in Natural Sciences from Cambridge University in 2005, followed by a PhD in Physics from the University of Bordeaux, France, in 2010, where she also worked at the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA). During this time she contributed to the ESA Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission, in particular evaluating surface roughness effects at L-band frequencies, and assessing the SMOS vegetation optical depth product.