Peter Read
Fellow and Tutor in Physics

We recently applied optical flow measurement techniques from our laboratory to map winds in the atmosphere of Jupiter.

Profile

My first degree was in Physics at Birmingham University, after which I moved on to Cambridge to complete a PhD in observational galactic radioastronomy. For the first 12 years of my post-doctoral research career I worked as a research scientist at the Met Office, initially based in Bracknell in Berkshire and later moving to a research unit at Oxford, researching fluid dynamical processes that determine the climate and predictability of the atmospheres of the Earth and other planets. I joined Oxford University in 1991 as Lecturer (then Professor in 2002), and as Fellow of Trinity College, where I am the senior Physics Tutor. I am also a musician and singer in my spare time, and currently serve as Senior Member of the College Music Society.

In the department I have recently completed a period as Head of Atmospheric, Oceanic & Planetary Physics. I am currently the Joint Chair of a new academic partnership between the University of Oxford and the Met Office, promoting research links relating to weather and climate across the whole University with the Met Office and other academic partner institutions.

 

Teaching

Tutorial teaching in Physics is shared with my tutorial colleagues in Trinity, Justin Wark, Sam Vinko and Francesco Hautmann. My tutorial teaching covers several of the more ‘classical’ areas of the Physics course in years 1-3, including electromagnetism, thermal and statistical physics, and fluid flow and complexity. Most tutorials are given in groups of 2-3 students though for some sessions we find larger groups of up to 5 or 6 work better. As the senior Physics tutor I organise much of the teaching timetable in college in consultation with tutorial colleagues. In the Physics Department I lecture to the 4th years on geophysical fluid dynamics, and I am working with others to develop a new graduate training course in atmospheric and climate physics.

 

Research

My research is concerned with understanding the fundamental fluid dynamical processes that govern the climate and circulation of the atmospheres and oceans of planets, including (but not restricted to) the Earth. We tackle these problems in my research group using three different approaches – (a) by developing numerical simulation models of the atmospheric circulation of various observable planets, such as on Mars, Venus or Jupiter, (b) by analysing observations of those planets, many of which have been obtained from spacecraft launched by NASA and ESA, and (c) in laboratory fluid flow experiments that aim to reproduce particular dynamical phenomena under controlled conditions. Combinations of these approaches have led recently to a combined analysis of model simulations and spacecraft observations of Mars to enable detailed studies of Martian weather systems and dust storms. Some of our laboratory experiments also featured recently on the BBC’s Sky at Night.

 

Selected Publications

  • Ana, C.; Barbosa Aguiar, A.C.; Read, P.L.; Wordsworth, R.D.; Salter, T.; Yamazaki, Y.H. A laboratory model of Saturn’s North Polar Hexagon. Icarus (2010), 206, 755-763.
  • Read, P.L. Dynamics and circulation regimes of terrestrial planets, Plan. Space Sci. (2011), 59, 900-914.
  • Read, P.L. Storm-clouds brooding on towering heights, Nature (2011), 475, 44-45.
  • Read, P.L.; Castrejón-Pita, A.A. Phase synchronization between stratospheric and tropospheric quasi-biennial and semi-annual oscillations, Q. J. R. Meteorol. Soc. (2012), 138, 1338–1349.
  • Read, P.L. Plumbing the depths of Uranus and Neptune, Nature, (2013), 497, 323-324.
  • Galperin, B.; Young, R.M.B.; Sukoriansky, S.; Dikovskaya, N.; Read, P.L.; Lancaster, A.J.; Armstrong, D. Cassini observations reveal a regime of zonostrophic macroturbulence on Jupiter.Icarus (2014), 229, 295-320.