Professor Douglas Parker

Professor Douglas Parker


I am a Meteorologist studying the physics and fluid dynamics of the atmosphere. My research group investigates the dynamics of weather systems such as cumulonimbus storms, cyclones and monsoons. We conduct observational and theoretical studies to develop new models of these weather patterns, and to explain their role in the climate system. Our work contributes to improving weather and climate predictions, and making these predictions more relevant to society. I have led and participated in a number of field campaigns, in the UK, Africa and India.

I have a joint position between the School of Earth and Environment and the School of Mathematics. I joined the University of Leeds in February 1997 as a lecturer. From 2010 to 2019 I was responsible for the coordination of the University's formal partnership with the Met Office.

I am currently leading, jointly with Alan Blyth, the GCRF African SWIFT project (2017-2021), which aims to improve weather forecasts in Africa, and thereby to increase the resilience of millions of vulnerable people in the continent to high-impact weather. SWIFT is a consortium of 16 partners, including 10 African universities and agencies, with strong support from the World Meteorological Organisation.

I have played a leading role in the African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analysis (AMMA) programme, 2003-present. AMMA is the largest and most extensive multidisciplinary research programme ever conducted in Africa, and arguably the biggest programme of its kind anywhere in the world. I led AMMA-UK, as well as the AMMA Radiosonde Programme (along with Andreas Fink) and the AMMA Monsoon-Season Special Observing Periods (SOPs; together with Cyrille Flamant).

I have led and edited a textbook on weather forecasting in West Africa. "Meteorology of Tropical West Africa: The Forecasters' Handbook" is the first book of its kind, collecting together the scientific principles and practical forecasting techniques for a particular climatic region. The book has been translated into French and more than 300 copies have been distributed to the forecasting and training centres in Africa, funded by the Met Office and Météo-France.

Research interests

My research is concerned with the physics and dynamics of weather systems, and their interaction with regional climate systems. For instance, I have studied the way in which rainfall over West Africa leads to patterns of soil moisture which then may initiate and modify subsequent rainfall events. I have also spent time studying different kinds of UK storms, looking at the role of cloud processes in the larger-scale storm dynamics. Much of my work has been conducted in collaboration with the Met Office, and has contributed to improvement in the Met Office's weather and climate forecasting systems. I have worked on a number of research and educational programmes including the following.

Ongoing projects:

Some completed projects:

  • African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analysis (AMMA);
  • AMMA-2050 (DFID-NERC Future Climates for Africa (FCFA) regional project, 2015-2019);
  • IMPALA (FCFA project, improving climate models for Africa, 2015-2019);
  • VERA (NERC West Africa vegetation/rainfall, 2015-2018);
  • INCOMPASS (Indian monsoon campaign 2016, analysis and modelling);
  • Convective Storm Initiation Project (CSIP);
  • Cascade Cloud-resolving simulations of the tropical atmosphere;
  • Ewiem Nimdie - a Partnership for the development of academic programmes in Meteorology and Climate Science at KNUST, Kumasi, Ghana;
  • JET2000: Aircraft observations of the African Easterly Jet system

The following list includes some current projects. However, the database is a little unreliable so the list may be incomplete or contain errors.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD, Meteorology, University of Reading
  • MA, Mathematics, University of Cambridge

Professional memberships

  • Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society
  • Member of the American Meteorological Society

Student education

I have taught a wide range of modules in the School of Earth and Environment at Leeds, including modules in basic Meteorology, Climate and advanced scientific analysis of weather systems. I supervise student projects in the School of Mathematics, including projects related to extreme weather, climate change and climate data analysis.

Even when teaching the most abstract and mathematical material, it is always possible in our subject to link the theory to every-day, observable meteorology and climate. I try to get good practical and computer-based demonstrations and exercises into my teaching. I also like to make use of recent research results, often in the form of a practical example for students to work on. By working on recently-published problems, students can see that they are working close to the cutting edge of climate science, and they can see how the basic science learnt in lectures relates to the ways in which we solve real-world problems.

Teaching fieldcourses is a stimulating experience: seeing and measuring real atmospheric phenomena in the field gets the staff and students enthusiastic, and opens up lively discussions. It's usually the point where students get to learn that there are always new problems to solve in atmospheric science, and that the professors certainly don't know all the answers. I have led and taught on various field courses over the years, including our level 1 introductory work and the level 2 atmospheric science course in the Lake District. Together with Sylvester Danuor, I developed a Meteorology and Climate Science summer school in Ghana in 2008: staff and students from Africa, Europe and the USA came together for 2 weeks of lectures, fieldwork and weather forecasting. The event was a remarkable academic experience, repeated in 2010 and 2019.

Research groups and institutes

  • Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science
  • Atmospheric and Cloud Dynamics
  • water@leeds

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>