Dr Richard Pope

Dr Richard Pope


I am a researcher in the Atmospheric Chemistry Modelling Group in the School of Earth and Environment (SEE) at the University of Leeds. I am currently funded by the National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO) and my research exploits Earth observation (EO) data and atmospheric chemistry modelling to investigate global and regional scale air pollution and the interactions between the biosphere and atmosphere (e.g. impacts of wildfire pollutant emissions on air quality). My most recent work (recently completed) was through a European Space Agaency - Climate Change Initiative (ESA CCI) fellowship, to investigate air quality and tropospheric chemistry using satellite observations and modelling. My ESA CCI fellowship (Tropospheric Ozone and Climate Interactions in the Satellite Era – TOCISE) focussed on investigating the current disagreement between satellite observed tropospheric ozone (O3) trends using new novel satellite products and the UK Met Office’s Earth System Model (UKESM).

Recent studies include:

  • Investigating changes in biomass burning practices over the Amazon and implications for Amazonian air quality (paper link).
  • Observing long-term trends in UK air quality using nitrogen dioxide (NO2), O3 and aerosol data sets (paper link).
  • Deriving top-down nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions using satellite observations to evalutate and verify offical bottom-up inventories (funded by the Department for Enviornment, Food and Rural Affairs – paper link).
  • Investigation of the June 2018 Saddleworth Moor fires on northern England air quality (paper1 link, paper2 link).

Saddleworth Moor Fires

Time lapse of the smoke plume and satellite observed carbon monoxide pollution (total column CO from the TropOMI instrument on ESA’s Sentinel 5 – Precursor satellite) from the June (25th-30th) 2018 Saddleworth Moor fires.

My other responsibilties are to evaluate UKESM using satellite measurements of atmospheric composition. UKESM is made up of multiple process models (e.g. atmospheric and ocean models) which interact to represent the Earth system as a whole. This allows scientists to better understand interations and feedbacks between these systems and how this has/can influence the Earth's past and future climate. A description and evaluation paper can be found here and recent work focussing on the representation of sulphur dioxide (SO2) in UKESM can be found here.

I was previously involved in the EU funded Desert Storms project (2014-2016) investigating errors in dust forecasting over Africa using the Met Office Unified Model (paper link).

I joined SEE in 2011 and undertook my PhD in atmopsheric chemistry modelling (thesis available here) with Prof Martyn Chipperfield (graduated in 2015). I did my undergraduate degree (MSci) in Meteorology and Oceanography at the University of East Anglia.

My academic CV can be found here.

Research interests

My primary research interests are using high resolution air quality models and satellite data of key air pollutants (e.g. NO2 and ozone) to investigate how atmospheric circulation patterns and transport influence UK pollution levels. The figure below shows NO2 pollution observed from space with clear hotspots over London, the Benelux region and Po Valley. 

Satellite AQOzone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) tropospheric column NO2 (1015 molecules/cm2) for 2005-2013.

More recently, my research has focused on global modelling using the TOMCAT chemistry transport model (CTM) to investigate large scale changes in atmospheric compositon. This includes investigation of circulation patterns like the NAO influencing European air quality (paper link) and changes in biomass burning over South America impacting on tropospheric composition (paper link). Several TOMCAT animations are below:

  • TOMCAT surface ozone (ppbv) for 2006
  • TOMCAT surface NO2 (ppbv) for 2006

I previously ran the SEE-Chem seminars, which are joint monthly meetings between SEE and the School of Chemistry covering a range of topics where common research interests and collaborations exist between the departments. A list of past seminars and slides can be found here

<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 Chemistry Modelling and Earth Observation, University of Leeds
  • MSci, Meteorology and Oceanography, University of East Anglia

Student education

I give lectures on two undergraduate courses 1) SOEE3190 Earth Observations from Space and 2) SOEE3431 Atmospheric Pollution: Causes, Impact and Regulation. This covers the remote sensing of clouds and atmospheric chemistry from space and the application of these observations for monitoring air quality. I also provide training for the SENSE CTD on monitoring air pollution from space.

At present, I formally co-supervise three PhD students in the School of Earth and Environment and at the University of Edinburgh:

  • Matilda Pimlott – Investigating long-term changes in European air quality in the satellite era.
  • Aishah Shittu – Impact of poor air quality in childhood health in Bradford using an array of sensors and models and incorporating the methods used in Nigeria.
  • Emma Sands (School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh) – Land use impacts on air quality and climate: a combined satellite and modelling study. 

Former PhD students I have co-supervised in the the School of Earth and Environment include:

  • Ailish Graham – Simulation and Evaluation of UK regional rural air quality in the UK.
  • Rebecca Kelly – Improved understanding of Arctic atmospheric composition and climate through exploitation of satellite observations.

I also supervised several UG and MRes students in the Atmospheric Chemsitry Group and supervised six previously funded undergraduate summer placements:

  • Richard Johnson - Investigation of meteorological processes influencing UK air quality - Summer 2016
  • Ryan Leeming - Gaussian stack plume modelling of emissions from Drax Power - Summer 2017
  • Ellen Stirling - Leeds Air Quality: Local versus Regional Pollution Sources - Summer 2018
  • Rebecca Kelly – Derivation of UK top-down NOx emissions from space using mesurements of NO2 – Summer 2019         
  • Kate Wade – Identifying UK industrial NOpollution sources from space – Summer 2020   
  • Emily Kelly – Quantifying the impact of the 2015/2016 El Niño event on regional wild-fire-induced ozone air pollution using Earth observation and modelling Summer 2021.

Research groups and institutes

  • Atmospheric Chemistry and Aerosols
  • Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science

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="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>