Dr Adam Povey

Lecturer of Earth Observation

Dr Adam Povey wearing a checked shirt

School/Department: Physics and Astronomy; Space Park Leicester

Telephone: +44 (0)116 229 7719


Address: 2.08 Space Park, 92 Corporation Road, Leicester, LE4 5SP


I observe and analyse aerosols, clouds, and precipitation in the atmosphere in order to understand their interactions with each other, our climate, and humanity.

Ship tracks, bright lines in a cloud deck, over the north Pacific

As a member of the National Centre for Earth Observation, I develop retrievals within the Optimal Retrieval of Aerosol and Cloud (ORAC), which produces data for the Copernicus Climate Change Service and ESA's Climate Change Initiative. I have expertise in the estimation of robust and useful uncertainties on satellite remote sensing data. That was especially useful in my assessment of the aerosol component of the UK Earth System Model.


Carl Sagan described the Earth as a “pale blue dot” and clouds are what make that dot pale, being responsible for about two-thirds of the planet’s albedo1. Almost all cloud droplets form on suspended particles known as aerosols such as sea salt, droplets of sulphuric acid, and dust. Changes in the loading of aerosols affects the properties and distribution of clouds2, impacting on the Earth’s energy and water budgets. Aerosol-cloud interactions (ACI) were identified as the most uncertain human climate forcing in the sixth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (AR6)3. These uncertainties lead to a large uncertainty in global equilibrium climate sensitivity (the temperature change per unit climate forcing) as models can reproduce historical temperatures with an under/over-estimate of aerosol cooling compensated by a low/high climate sensitivity4,5. New constraints on ACI are essential for accurately predicting future climate.




I lecture units 1 and 2 of PA1710 Mathematical Methods 1.1.

I have 13 years of experience in small-group tutoring mathematical methods, statistics, optics, fluid mechanics, climate science, dynamical systems, and atmospheric physics for undergraduate physicists. This included a Stipendiary Lectureship at St. Hugh's College, Oxford from 2016 to 2020.

Press and media

A talk I gave as part of the JASMIN User Seminar Series, on using Python to evaluate aerosols in the UK Earth System model, can he found here.


Member of the ATSR Scientific Advisory Group (2018-)

Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society (2019-)

Member of the FAAM Mid-Life Upgrade User Community Advisory Group (2022-)

Founding member of the NCEO Green Group

Co-editor of Uncertainty Management in Satellite Remote Sensing, a special issue for Remote Sensing


Award for Excellence from Oxford Physics (2014)
A scheme to recognise employees who have performed well in all key areas of their jobs and have consistently demonstrated exceptional performance.


Invited Presentations

  • Moving beyond the mean: Capturing variability in satellite observations of aerosol, presented to the Joint Workshop on Representation Uncertainty in the Earth Sciences in March 2021.
  • Constraining aerosols and their radiative effect with Earth Observation, presented to the Workshop on the Role of Anthropogenic Aerosols in Atlantic Multidecadal Variability at the National Centre for Atmospheric Science (Reading, UK) in March 2019.
  • The subtleties of using satellite data for model development and assessment, a general seminar at the Met Office (Exeter, UK) in June 2018.
  • Experimental approach to uncertainty: Communicating the unquantifiable, presented to the Sixth ESA Collocation Meeting (Frascati, Italy) in September 2015.
  • Optimal estimation retrieval of aerosol properties from the ground and space, a TROPOS-Meteorology Joint Colloquium at the University of Leipzig (Germany) in September 2015.
  • Parallel retrieval of aerosol and cloud, an Earth Observation Seminar at the Space Research Centre at the University of Leicester (UK) in June 2015.
  • Examples of uncertainty characterisation in atmospheric retrievals, presented to the ESA SST CCI User Workshop on Uncertainties (Exeter, UK) in November 2014.
  • Discussions on the uncertainty in aerosol retrieval products, presented to the Fifth ESA Collocation Meeting (Frascati, Italy) in October 2014.
  • Laser radar observations of Eyjafjallajökull ash, a Hotstuff Seminar at the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol (UK) in May 2013.


Submitted Presentations

2023: NCEO Conference (Oral)

2022: AEROCOM (Poster), EO Week (Oral), Living Planet Symposium (Poster)

2021: AEROCOM (Oral), UK Earth Observation Week (Oral)

2020: AEROCOM (Oral), NCEO-CEOI Conference (Oral)

2019: AEROCOM (Oral and Poster), National Earth Observation Conference (Poster), Sentinel-3 Validation Team Meeting (Oral)

2018: AEROCOM (Oral), ATMOS (Oral), National Earth Observation Conference (Oral & Poster)

2017: AEROCOM (Poster), International Conference on Aerosol Cycle (Poster), R.Met.Soc Annual Conference (Poster)

2016: Living Planet Symposium (Poster)

2015: AEROCOM (Oral), ATMOS (Poster), RPSoc-NCEO-CEOI Conference (Poster & Poster)

2014: AEROCOM (Poster), NCEO-CEOI Joint Science Conference (Poster)

2013: AEROCOM (Poster), Remote sensing of atmospheric aerosol, clouds, and aerosol-cloud interactions workshop (Oral)

2012: Aerosol Society Workshop on Atmospheric Measurement of Volcanic Ash (Poster), ISARS (Oral), ISTP (Oral)

2011: EGU General Assembly (Poster)

2010: ISARS (Poster), Meeting on the Eyjafjallajökull eruption (Oral)


Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (Sep 2015)
A nationally recognised assessment of “commitment to professionalism in teaching and learning in higher education.”

D.Phil in Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Planetary Physics from the University of Oxford (Dec 2013)
My research (under the supervision of Don Grainger) applied the techniques of non-linear regression to improve data products generated by a Raman lidar. An optimal estimation. A retrieval of aerosol scattering properties was developed, demonstrating superior performance in high-noise conditions compared to existing algorithms. A selection of calibration techniques were developed to improve the error budget of an instrument I maintained and operated throughout my studies, though are more widely applicable. Observations of the Eyjafjallajökull ash plume of 2010 were made, with an estimate of the particle size derived.

MPhys from the University of Oxford (Jun 2009)
An exhaustive four-year course covering all major disciplines of physics. I specialised in particle and atmospheric physics, including an investigation under the supervision of the late John Barnett of the impact of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) on frontal variability around the UK.

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