An external view of the Met Office building at night.

Dr Paul Burns

Areas of expertise

  • Fluid dynamics
  • Turbulence theory
  • Numerical modelling
  • Modelling Earth's atmospheric boundary layer and oceans
  • Parametrization development

Current activities

Paul works within the Boundary Layer and Surface Processes team, within Atmospheric Processes and Parametrizations (APP).  The team focuses on improving our understanding of all processes related to the atmospheric boundary layer and its interaction with the surface, to improve their representation in weather forecasts and climate simulations.

Paul is focused on developing improvements to the representation of small-scale mixing and turbulence within the Unified Model. Advancements in computing power have enabled increases in model resolutions; finer scales of mixing and turbulence are being resolved by the model grid.  This requires the development of new subgrid-turbulence schemes for the new resolutions (that lie between traditional large eddy simulation and NWP scales, the so-called 'gray zone'), to ensure accurate predictions on the grid scale.

Paul is also carrying out research with colleagues from the University of Exeter.  One project is looking at the coupling of slow-fast dynamics, in particular, how interactions of internal waves within the oceans (via nonlinear resonance) can lead to long-lived layers of water density.  The second project is investigating the decadal predictability of near-surface solar radiation and wind speed for future renewable energy production, using datasets from the DCPP and DAMIP experiments of CMIP6.

Career background

Paul joined the Met Office in early 2023 following a research career in academia, most recently within the mathematics department of the University of Exeter, where he mainly worked on investigating the coupling of slow-fast dynamics.  Paul was awarded a PhD in modelling nocturnal atmospheric boundary layers from the University of Hertfordshire in 2015, following an MSc in Meteorology at the University of Reading. Previous to his research career, Paul worked as a Hydrographic Surveyor, mapping the seabed around the UK using hull-mounted and towed sonar arrays.

External recognition

Paul is a Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society and a committee member of the Nonlinear and Complex Physics group of the Institute of Physics.