Contact Professor Neil Harris

Areas of expertise

  • Air
  • Biomass and Waste
  • Energy and the Environment
  • Environmental Impacts
  • Environmental Policy
  • Monitoring and Environmental Informatics
  • Natural capital
  • Space Systems

Background

A wealth of measurements exists that has been collected in monitoring networks, during focussed field campaigns and by satellite instruments. Great opportunities exist to exploit these data to understand a range of atmospheric problems. In addition to using commercial instruments, Neil’s group have developed and constructed instruments capable of running autonomously in order to make observations for months and years at a time. The current generation of custom-built instruments are used to make measurements of short-lived, reactive compounds which are important for climate change and air pollution. For the last 3 summers, isoprene was measured at Wytham Woods and used to study the effects of heat, drought, etc.. Dimethyl sulphide has been measured in the Antarctic to shed light on low level cloud formation in the Southern Ocean. Similar uses are planned in the future. 

Neil is experienced in the international coordination of atmospheric research and in ensuring that the understanding gained is transferred to the policy and public fields. He is co-chair of the Stratosphere-troposphere Processes and their Role in Climate of the World Climate Research Programme and has been involved in many international assessments of ozone depletion and climate change. He was awarded the NERC 50th anniversary International and the Overall Impact Awards for our role in successful development of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. Neil has a BA in Chemistry from Oxford University and a PhD from the University of California at Irvine. He was appointed Chair in Atmospheric Informatics in April 2016.

Current activities


  • Emissions of greenhouse gases in the United Kingdom. We develop and use analytical techniques using our own measurements to quantify emissions at local scales to pinpoint where emissions are occurring (landfills, towns and cities, agriculture). We are currently collaborating in a project estimating London’s emissions at borough level.
  • Emissions of trace gases in the UK and South East Asia. Gases emitted from temperate and tropical forests (isoprene and terpenes) and palm oil plantations have important impacts on the global atmosphere. We measure their concentrations and emissions and study the impact on air quality.
  • Oceanic emissions of dimethylsulphide. Dimethyl sulphide is an important natural precursor for particle formation over the oceans. We measure its concentrations from ships and coastal sites to assess its role in cloud formation and climate.
  • Air quality across the Oxford - Milton Keynes - Cambridge Arc. Additional measurements of pollutants are being made across the Arc to assess the impact of the COVID-19 restrictions and changes in habits (e.g. traffic). A special focus is on atmospheric particles (PM2.5) by measuring in selected cities across the Arc. This builds on the facilities in the Cranfield Urban Observatory.

Clients

  • NERC
  • Newton Fund
  • DEFRA
  • Royal Society
  • European Union

Publications

Articles In Journals

Books