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School of Geography

Professor Bruce Atkinson

Emeritus Professor of Physical Geography



Research Interests:

Research areas: meteorology

Meso-scale meteorology
The realms of meso-scale meteorology cover atmospheric circulations with characteristic horizontal dimensions of 10-100 km. Within this field the research concentrates on numerical modelling of flows at the small end of the meso-scale range. These flows are thermally generated due to the inhomogeneity of the surface and have significance in the contexts of both pure and applied science. The most obvious applications of increased understanding of the flows are in weather forecasting and air pollution studies.

The research programme uses two numerical models developed in the Meteorological Office: one is a meso-scale model; the other is at a much smaller scale (virtually a Large Eddy Simulation model), appropriate for analysis of flows on the scale of 100 m. They are currently being used to analyse: both daytime and night-time flows over slopes and in valleys, concentrating upon the effects of orography, stability, entrainment, radiation and internal turbulence structure upon the creation, development and demise of the near-surface flows; the effects of polynyas on the Antarctic boundary layer; the propagation environment in coastal areas; and the urban boundary layer. Currently, two post-doctoral research assistants work on these topics.

Collaboration with the Meteorological Office is particularly good. We also have links with the Joint Centre for Meso-scale Meteorology at the University of Reading and the European Research Community on Flow, Turbulence and Combustion (ERCOFTAC). The latter is a Europe-wide organization linking research groups with interests in fluid flows over a wide range of scales. The research has been funded by NERC, ODA, the British Council, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Ministry of Defence and the Meteorological Office.


Dare, R. A. and Atkinson, B. W.  1999 Numerical modelling of atmospheric response to polynyas in the Southern Ocean sea ice zone. Journal of Geophysical Research, 104,D14, pp. 16691–16708.

Dare, R. A. and Atkinson, B. W. 2000 Atmospheric response to spatial variations in concentration and size of polynyas in the Southern Ocean sea ice zone. Boundary Layer Meteorology, 94, pp. 65–88.

Li, J.-G. and Atkinson, B. W. 2000 An inert tracer dispersion scheme for use in a mesoscale atmospheric model. Atmospheric Environment, 34, pp. 4011–4018.

Atkinson, B. W., Li, J.-G. and Plant, R. S. 2001 Numerical modelling of the propagation environment in the atmospheric boundary layer over the Persian Gulf. J. Appl. Meteor., 40, pp. 586–603.

Plant, R. S. and Atkinson, B. W. 2002 Sea-breeze modification of the growth of a marine internal boundary layer. Boundary-Layer Meteorology, 104, pp. 201–228.

Atkinson, B. W.  2003 Numerical modelling of urban heat island intensity. Boundary-Layer Meteorology, 109, 285–310.

Zhu, M. and Atkinson, B. W. 2004 Observed and modelled climatology of the land-sea breeze circulation over the Persian Gulf. Int. J. Clim., 24, 883–905.

Zhu, M. and Atkinson, B. W. 2005 Simulated climatology of atmospheric ducts over the Persian Gulf area. Boundary-Layer Meteorology, 115, 433–452.

Atkinson, B. W. and Zhu, M. 2005 Radar duct and boundary layer characteristics over The Gulf area Quart. J. Roy. Meteorol. Soc. 131, 1923–1954

Atkinson, B. W. and Zhu, M. 2006 Coastal effects on radar propagation in atmospheric ducting conditions. Meteorological Applications, 13, 53–62.

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