An external view of the Met Office building at night.

Dr Steven Abel

Areas of expertise

  • Aircraft scientific instrumentation

  • Analysis of cloud and aerosol observations

  • Airborne field campaigns

My Publications

Current activities

Steven is currently researching processes in mixed-phase cloud systems (those containing both ice and supercooled liquid water). He has a particular interest in clouds that form in cold-air outbreaks and in the processes that control the transition between largely continuous stratiform cloud cover and open cellular convection. This transition has a large impact on both the radiative properties of the cloud layer itself and the energy budget of the sea-surface below. He is the Principal Investigator of the upcoming Arctic Cold Air Outbreak (ACAO) field campaign. ACAO plans to deploy the FAAM research aircraft to study the development and evolution of clouds in cold-air outbreaks between the Arctic marginal ice-zone and Scandinavia.

The group is currently involved in a range of other collaborative measurement projects, with a focus on the study of aerosol optical properties and cloud microphysical and dynamical characteristics, including i) CLoud-Aerosol-Radiation Interaction and Forcing: Year-2017 (CLARIFY) ii) Soot Aerodynamic Size Selection for Optical properties (SASSO) iii) Elucidating the Role of Clouds-Circulation Coupling in Climate (EUREC4A-UK) iv) Parameterizing Ice Clouds using Airborne obServationS and triple-frequency dOppler radar data (PICASSO) v) The Maritime Continent - Driver of the Global Climate System (Terra-Maris).

The group also undertakes the development of new custom-built aircraft instrumentation, that includes multi-wavelength cavity ringdown and photoacoustic spectroscopic techniques for the in-situ characterisation of aerosol optical properties and a continuous flow diffusion chamber for measuring ice nucleating particles.

Career background

Steven obtained a first class degree in Physics with Astrophysics from the University of Birmingham and a PhD in Meteorology from the University of Reading. His doctoral work utilised airborne observations from the SAFARI-2000 field campaign in combination with radiative transfer modelling to examine the direct radiative effect of biomass burning aerosols. 

Steven then joined the Met Office in 2004 as a research scientist in the Cloud Physics group within Observation Based Research. During this time, he has been actively involved in a wide range of UK and international field campaigns with the FAAM research aircraft, in order to better understand the complex processes that control the formation and evolution of clouds. Much of his research has focussed on boundary layer stratiform and cumulus clouds using data from the RICO, VOCALS and CLARIFY experiments. Steven has exploited the data from these campaigns to both evaluate and to develop improvements to the representation of clouds and precipitation within the Met Office Unified Model.

In 2018, Steven became the manager of the OBR Cloud and Aerosol group.

External recognition

  • LG Groves Award for Meteorological Observation, 2019.
  • Moreton prize, University of Birmingham, 2001.