An external view of the Met Office building at night.

Dr Fiona O'Connor

Areas of expertise

  • Atmospheric chemistry
  • Earth system modelling
  • Chemistry-climate interactions
  • Methane and climate system feedbacks

Current activities

Fiona's work aims to gain a better understanding of the sources and sinks of atmospheric methane; the interannual variability of methane emissions and atmospheric concentrations, and the potential feedbacks in the climate system which may affect future concentrations of atmospheric methane. She is also interested in modelling and understanding the role of short-lived atmospheric trace gases, such as ozone and methane, in climate change.

A key aspect of her work is developing and running the UKCA model on a global scale and on a decadal-to-centennial timescale. In particular, she implemented atmospheric chemistry in the latest version of the Met Office Hadley Centre's climate model, HadGEM2, which will be run as part of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5  integrations for the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 5th Assessment Report.

She is also working towards implementing UKCA in the Met Office Hadley Centre's regional climate model, so that the interactions between climate and air quality on a more regional scale can be explored.

Career background

Fiona joined the Met Office Hadley Centre in 2004, to work on the development of UKCA, a new community chemistry and aerosol model based on the Unified Model. UKCA is now becoming well established and forms an integral part of the Met Office Hadley Centre's Earth System model, HadGEM2-ES. More recently, Fiona has started to focus on methane, with a particular interest in natural sources of methane emissions, inter-annual variability in atmospheric methane, and potential feedbacks which may affect future atmospheric concentrations of methane.

In 2006, Fiona took a secondment from the Met Office Hadley Centre and worked at the Office of Climate Change, where she put together a science pack on climate change which was published and distributed to all members of Parliament and the House of Lords as part of the UK's Climate Change Bill. Prior to joining the Met Office Hadley Centre, she worked on tropospheric chemistry modelling as a post-doctoral research associate at Cambridge University. Before that, she did a PhD at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth using observations and modelling to study stratospheric dynamics.

Fiona also has a first class honours degree in Experimental Physics and an MSc in Environmental Chemistry from the National University of Ireland, Galway and Cork, respectively.