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Use of research observations

Our scientists use two state-of-the-art facilities to conduct research in to key atmospheric processes that need to be represented in forecast and climate models, such as:

  • radiative transfer
  • turbulence
  • cloud microphysics
  • aerosols microphysics.

These two facilities are the Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements and the Met. Research Unit.

The Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements (FAAM)

FAAM's BAe 146 aircraft in flight

FAAM is a collaboration between the Met Office and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), and is part of the National Centre for Atmospheric Sciences (NCAS). The modified BAe 146 aircraft is owned by BAe Systems and operated for them by Directflight. The home base is at Cranfield University, Bedfordshire.

FAAM provides an aircraft measurement platform — the BAe 146 aircraft — for use by all the UK atmospheric research community on campaigns throughout the world.

The aircraft is equipped with a wide range of state-of-the-art instrumentation that allows detailed study of the atmosphere. Carrying up to 18 scientists, the aircraft is used all over the world to further our research and improve the understanding of the atmosphere and the use of satellite data in weather forecasting.

Meteorological Research Unit

We maintain a Meteorological Research Unit (MRU) at Cardington near Bedford, which researches the turbulent flow in the lower two kilometres of the atmosphere — the boundary layer. This is done using specially developed turbulence probes held aloft at various heights under a tethered balloon, along with a comprehensive suite of surface instruments. This research helps us improve both weather forecasts and simulations of the Earth's climate.