An external view of the Met Office building at night.

Dr Helen Webster

Areas of expertise

Helen's areas of expertise include:

  • Dispersion modelling
  • Inversion modelling techniques for estimating emissions
  • NAME (the Met Office's atmospheric dispersion model)
  • InTEM (Inversion Technique for Emissions Modelling) for volcanic ash
  • Unresolved motions (turbulence and 2-d mesoscale motions)
  • Wet and dry deposition
  • Rise of buoyant and momentum-driven plumes
  • Model validation

My Publications - Webster, H

Current activities

Helen's main focus is on dispersion modelling research and the scientific development of NAME (the Met Office's atmospheric dispersion model). Her recent work has included development of an inversion technique (InTEM) for estimating volcanic ash emissions using a Bayesian method, dispersion modelling and satellite observations. In addition, she has implemented in NAME a parametrization to represent the lateral spread within volcanic ash umbrella clouds. Helen is also the current organiser for the NAME User Workshop.

Career background

Helen has worked in atmospheric dispersion since joining the Met Office in 1999. Her NAME development work has included the areas of plume rise modelling, turbulence and meander parametrisations, wet and dry deposition schemes and the use of NWP data in dispersion modelling. Helen has also used dispersion modelling to support measurement campaigns and to respond to air pollution events such as the Buncefield oil depot incident in December 2005. She is occasionally involved in training in atmospheric dispersion and NAME, and emergency response role work during incidents such as the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull in April / May 2010.

In 2016 Helen undertook a sabbatical at the U.S. Geological Survey's Cascades Volcano Observatory working with volcanologists to improve modelling of volcanic ash clouds. Since November 2019, Helen has held a part-time lectureship position at Exeter University, based in the Global Systems Institute and the Mathematics department, working to strengthen collaborations with academia to tackle environmental issues.

Prior to joining the Met Office, Helen studied for a mathematics degree and a PGCE in secondary mathematics at Oxford University. She then completed an applied mathematics PhD on integrable nonlinear differential equations at the University of Kent at Canterbury.