School of Earth and Environment

Ryan Neely Dr Ryan Neely

Lecturer in Observational Atmospheric Science; Programme Manager: MRes Climate and Atmospheric Science

Telephone number: +44(0) 113 34 36417
Email address:
Room: 9.116

Affiliation: Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science


Google Scholar ID



Ryan R. Neely III is a native of Asheboro, North Carolina. From an early age Neely knew he enjoyed exploring the natural world with technology. Thus, his academic career has always been a blend of physics, engineering, computer modelling, travelling, and working outdoors.

Neely began his formal exploration of atmospheric science at the North Carolina School of Science and Math (NCSSM) where he worked at the Duke Forest Free Air Carbon Experiment looking at the impact of elevated levels of CO2 on the primary production of pine trees. In 2005, he graduated from NCSSM and was awarded a Park Scholarship to attend North Carolina State University (NC State) to study Physics. While at NC State Neely began his first work in the use of electromagnetic radiation to explore the natural world through several undergraduate research projects involving the use of Raman spectroscopy.

Also during his time at NC State, Neely worked as a summer intern at NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory within the Global Monitoring Division in Boulder, Colorado as part of NOAA's Hollings Scholar program. During these summers Neely worked on a variety of topics but found his true passion through the use of lidar to explore clouds and aerosol.

In 2008, Neely graduated summa cum laude from NC State and moved to Boulder permanently to attend graduate school at the in the department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science at the University of Colorado NOAA/ESRL-CIRES Graduate Fellow. During his time in Boulder, Neely worked with scientists across the world as explored the variability of stratospheric aerosol with lidar and global climate models.

Most significantly, his graduate work involved construction of the "Cloud, Aerosol Polarisation and Backscatter Lidar" (CAPABL) and Neely's involvement in the Integrated Characterization of Energy, Clouds, Atmospheric state, and Precipitation at Summit (ICECAPS) project. This initial work in the use of polarisation to improve measure horizontally oriented ice crystals and improve the estimate of cloud phase led to Neely's current research in the use of polarised lidar and radar to investigate cloud microphysics.

After completing his M. Sci in 2010 and PhD in 2012, Neely moved across Boulder to work as a Post-Doctoral Fellow in the National Center for Atmosoheric Research's (NCAR) prestigious Advanced Study Program. During his time at NCAR, Neely was hosted by the Atmospheric Chemistry Division (Now known as ACOM). While there, Neely continued both his development of active remote sensing technology through his involvement with the ICECAPS project and the awarding of a grant to build a high resolution polarized Raman lidar (see below). Neely also used to state-of-the-art climate models to continue his exploration of volcanoes, stratospheric aerosol and climate variability.

In 2014, Neely moved to the Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science (ICAS) within the School of Earth and Environment (SEE) and National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) at the University of Leeds as a Lecturer of Observational Atmospheric Science and Principal Investigator of the NCAS mobile X-band weather radar (MXWR).


  • Participant in the 12th Atmospheric Chemistry Colloquium for Emerging Senior Scientists (ACCESS XII) at Brookhaven National Laboratory in 2013. The purpose of ACCESS is to bring together young researchers in atmospheric chemistry and representatives of the principal federal government agencies that fund atmospheric chemistry research to engage in scientific discussion and interaction.
  • Sigma Xi, Awarded Full Membership in 2012
  • Outstanding Student Presentation, World Climate Research Program (WCRP), Open Science Meeting for Trends and Annual Cycles in the Background Stratospheric Aerosol Layer, 2011
  • NOAA’s Office of Atmospheric Research’s Outstanding Scientific Paper Award, 2010
  • Outstanding Student Paper Award, American Geophysical Union Annual Meeting for “Initial Results of the Cloud, Aerosol Polarization and Backscatter Lidar at Summit, Greenland”, 2010
  • First Place for Outstanding Oral Presentation at the Hollings Scholarship Conference, 2008
  • NCSU College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences Outstanding Graduating Senior Research Award, Spring 2008
  • NCSU Dept. of Physics Rodney I. McCormick Award, 2008
  • Eagle Scout Award, Boy Scouts of America , 2002


  • Ph. D. Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Colorado (2012)

  • M. Sci. Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Colorado (2010)
  • B. A. Physics, North Carolina State University, summa cum laude with Honors (2008)


Research Interests

  • Active remote sensing and modeling of clouds, aerosol and atmospheric state
  • Understanding the life cycle and role of mixed phase clouds in weather and climate
  • Extracting improved information from active remote sensing observations (particularly exploiting polarisation) through the improvements in technology and algorithm development
  • The microphysical processes that lead to various precipitation amounts and types
  • The role of anthropogenic and volcanic sources of stratosphere aerosol climate variability

Teaching Interests

As a Lecturer of Observational Atmospheric Science, the majority of Neely's teaching is centered around field courses and small group teaching.

Within the School of Earth and Environment at the University of Leeds, Neely is an Academic Tutor (SOEE1442) for 1st year students and a personal tutor for all levels. He also contributes to the 1st year discovery module "Atmosphere of Planet Earth" (SOEE1280), "Environmental Research and Career Skills" (SOEE2700, including the Blencathra field trip, for 2nd year students) and "Atmospheric Science Field Skills" (SOEE3151 for 3rd year students, also known as the Arran field trip).

Neely also supervises students undertaking and MRes in Climate and Atmospheric Science and several PhD students.

Outside of SEE, Neely is also heavily involved with the NCAS Atmospheric Measurement School that takes place annually in May on the Isle of Arran.

Support duties

Currently Neely is a member of the:

Project details

Project title

New PhD Projects are advertised on the Institute PhD pages and the Leeds York NERC Doctoral Training Partnership.

If you look through these projects and do not find anything that fits but are still interested in research that involves polarised lidar, dual-polarisation radar, mixed phase clouds, hydrometeor identification, flooding, clouds over icecaps, volcanoes, stratospheric aerosol or are just interested in doing field work, please contact me via email.


Major Research Instrumentation:

  • PI of the Cloud, Aerosol Polarisation and Backscatter Lidar (CAPABL), Polarimetric backscatter lidar developed at the University of Colorado, CIRES and NOAA and operating at Summit, Greenland since 2010 (See:
  • PI of the Summit Polarised Raman Lidar (SuPR), Mobile water vapor and temperature observing Raman lidar currently being developed at the University of Colorado, CIRES and NOAA. (See:
  • PI of the NCAS Mobile X-Band Dual-polarisation Doppler Weather Radar (NXPol), Owned and operated through the National Centre for Atmospheric Science Atmospheric Measurement Facility at the University of Leeds (See:
  • Neely is also heavily involved with other instrumentation within the NSF funded ICECAPS project (see below for project details), the NCAS Atmospheric Measurement Facility and at the Chilbolton Observatory

Funded Grants:

  • PI, "Novel Ways to See More: Using Dual-Polarisation Doppler Weather Radar Observations to Improve Our Understanding of Weather", NERC-CASE Studentship, Awarded in 2016
  • PI, “Radar Applications in Northern Scotland (RAINS)(£80,000), Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, Awarded in November, 2015.
  • PI, “High Resolution, Active Remote Sensing of Cloud Microphysics at Summit, Greenland with Polarized Raman Lidar” ($1,280,351), NSF, Arctic Sciences Division, Arctic Observing Network Implementation, Awarded in August, 2013. Other investigators include M. Shupe (co-I, CU/CIRES) and J. P. Thayer (co-I, CU).
  • Co-I, “Collaborative Research: Integrated Characterization of Energy, Clouds, Atmospheric structure, and Precipitation at Summit (ICECAPS)” ($941,142), NSF, Arctic Sciences Division, Arctic Observing Network Implementation”, Awarded in August, 2013. Other investigators include Matthew Shupe (PI, CU/CIRES).
  • Co-I, “A compact, sensitive LIF instrument for the measurement of SO2” ($24,595), Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Science, Innovative Research Program, Awarded in May 2013. Other investigators include Andrew Rollins (PI, CIRES), Troy Thornberry (Co-I, CIRES) and Ru-Shan Gao (Co-I, NOAA).
  • Post-Doctoral Fellowship, “Understanding the Role of Emissions on Stratospheric Aerosols” ($124,500), National Center for Atmospheric Research’s Advanced Study Program (NCAR/ASP), Awarded in Jan. 2013.
  • Graduate Research Fellowship (Full Scholarship and Stipend), “Lidar Remote Sensing and Modeling of Stratospheric Aerosol”, NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL)-CIRES Graduate Research Fellowship, Awarded in Aug. 2008.
  • Park Scholarship, ($92,000), Four-year comprehensive undergraduate scholarship and leadership development program, North Carolina State University, Awarded in Aug. 2005.