Satellite observations of global ozone in comparison to the surface monitoring network (16/09)

Company: Remote Sensing Group, RAL Space

Location: STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Harwell Oxford, Didcot, Oxfordshire, OX11 0QX. Supervised by Dr. Barry Latter / Dr. Richard Siddans


RAL Space at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) is part of the Science and Technology Facilities Council. RAL Space works alongside the UK Space Agency (UKSA) who co-ordinate UK civil space activities and has around 200 staff. RAL Space provides world-leading research and technology development, space test facilities, instrument and mission design, and studies of science and technology requirements for new missions. The RAL Remote Sensing Group develops state-of-the-art schemes to retrieve global distributions of atmospheric constituents from satellite observations. Multi-year data sets on methane, ozone, aerosol and clouds are currently being produced for climate research and other applications.


Ozone produced by nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds is a pollutant of importance to air quality, human health and ecosystem health. In the middle and upper troposphere it is also an important contributor to climate radiative forcing, while the stratospheric ozone layer shields us from harmful solar uv radiation.

The global height-resolved data sets for the period 1995-2015 produced by RAL-RSG are unique in spanning the troposphere as well as the stratosphere (where ~90% of the ozone column resides). Sensitivity to ozone in the lower atmosphere offers potential for new scientific studies and applications, through complementing measurements made by surface-level monitoring networks.

In this project, the student will perform systematic comparisons with surface monitoring networks and atmospheric models to assess the value of the satellite ozone data.

Student Specification:

The student will have the opportunity to deepen their computer programming skills, learn about satellite sounding of atmospheric composition, and will use and develop tools to visualise and interpret state-of-the-art satellite data on ozone. Some experience and skill in IDL, Fortran, C or python coding is expected.

Target courses:

The successful candidate is likely to be in the 3rd/4th year of an undergraduate course in physics/meteorology/environmental science/chemistry. A computer scientist with experience developing software with an interest in environmental applications would also be highly suitable.

The Nitty Gritty:

8-week fixed term contract to be agreed with successful candidate, but should nominally to start around 27 June 2016, with the SpIN student Induction day to be held at Harwell on that date. £1,300 gross pcm.

Closing Date for Applications: 15 April 2016

Applications will be through the online form attaching a CV, before the closing date. They will be checked for eligibility and forwarded to the employer.

Apply for this SpIN opportunity

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