Dr Gillian Young McCusker
- Position: NERC Independent Research Fellow
- Areas of expertise: Polar meteorology; mixed-phase cloud microphysics; boundary layer processes; primary and secondary ice production; cloud modelling across large-eddy simulation, regional, and global scales
- Email: G.Y.McCusker@leeds.ac.uk
- Location: 11.121 School of Earth and Environment
- Website: Github | Twitter | ORCID
I joined the Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science (ICAS) in March 2019 as a Research Fellow on the Microbiology-Ocean-Cloud Coupling in the High Arctic (MOCCHA) project, modelling central Arctic clouds with the Met Office Unified Model and Met Office NERC Cloud model. Prior to Leeds, I worked as a cloud physicist at the British Antarctic Survey on the Microphysics of Antarctic Clouds (MAC) campaign, modelling Antarctic cloud physics with the Weather Research and Forecasting model. I completed my PhD in Atmospheric Physics at the University of Manchester in 2016, as part of the Aerosol-Cloud-Coupling And Climate Interactions in the Arctic (ACCACIA) campaign, using both measurements and a large eddy simulation model to further our understanding of Arctic cloud physics and aerosol-cloud interactions.
As of Jan 2022, I hold a NERC Independent Research Fellowship within ICAS, working on the Tackling the Arctic Cloud Problem project.
External to Leeds:
- Chair/Co-Founder of the Quantifying the Indirect Effect: from Sources to Climate Effects of Natural and Transported aerosol in the Arctic (QuIESCENT Arctic) initiative (2019—).
- Secretary of the International Arctic Science Committee Atmosphere Working Group (2021—).
- IASC Atmosphere Working Group Early Career Fellow (2018—21).
- Member: Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) Antarctic Clouds and Aerosols Action Group (2018—).
- Member: air Pollution in the Arctic: Climate, Environment, and Societies (PACES) scientific steering committee (2019—).
- Member: the Cryosphere and ATmospheric CHemistry (CATCH) scientific steering committee (2022—).
As a cloud physicist, I study the small-scale interactions in polar clouds which drive their development, evolution, and lifetime. I've used a number of numerical models – at large eddy simulation, numerical weather prediction, and global scales – to conduct detailed studies of the physical processes within Arctic and Antarctic clouds.
The interaction between aerosol particles and clouds is a key uncertainty in general circulation models, and I am interested in the how these interactions affect cloud microphysical properties in the unique polar environment. Polar clouds differ from their mid-latitude counterparts in a number of ways but, most importantly, they are often mixed-phase (containing both liquid cloud droplets and ice crystals), long-lived, and therefore very difficult to model. I use observations to develop the representation of present-day polar clouds in high-resolution numerical models, improving our understanding of the small-scale physical processes which occur within them and enabling us to make judgements about how they may be affected by a changing climate. A key problem with making predictions of polar clouds is their microphysical sensitivity to different particle sources and meteorological forcings, both of which large-scale models fail to capture correctly. Polar aerosol sources range from local to distant – via long-range transport pathways – thus adding further complexity into understanding aerosol-cloud interactions: if we don’t know what aerosol are there, then we cannot truly understand how important they are in influencing the clouds in the region.
Young, G., Vüllers, J., Achtert, P., Field, P., Day, J. J., Forbes, R., Price, R., O'Connor, E., Tjernström, M., Prytherch, J., Neely III, R., and Brooks, I. M.: Evaluating Arctic clouds modelled with the Unified Model and Integrated Forecasting System, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss. [preprint], https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2021-662, in review, 2021.<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://environment.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>
- PhD Atmospheric Physics, University of Manchester (2016)
- MSci Physics and Astronomy, University of Glasgow (2013)
- International Arctic Science Committee
Research groups and institutes
- Atmospheric and Cloud Dynamics
- Atmospheric Chemistry and Aerosols
- Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science