Dave Sproson

Guys - it's been emotional! Thanks to everyone involved in I'm a Scientist fo a brilliant couple of weeks!

Favourite Thing: I love getting out to do fieldwork, particularly on research ships (although I’ve done some pretty cool fieldwork on a low flying plane!). However, there isn’t a much better feeling that when you think you’ve found something new that probably no-one else has seen before.



Truro College (1999-2001), Cape Cornwall Comprehensive, (1994-1999)


Ph.D. Meteorology, Oceanography & Climate Dynamics, University of East Anglia (2006-2010); M.Sc. Modelling Atmospheres & Oceans, University of Reading (2004-2005); B.Sc. Mathematics, University of York (2001-2004).

Work History:

A few summer jobs waiting tables or bar work, but otherwise I’ve always been in education.


Institute for Climate & Atmospheric Science, University of Leeds.

Current Job:

Research Fellow

Me and my work

I study how sea-spray may provide some of the energy required to power typhoons and hurricanes.

Typhoons and hurricanes need to take a lot of energy out of the ocean in order to maintain the really strong winds that we see in these weather systems (This is why you only find hurricanes & typhoons in the tropics, where the ocean is really warm). Normal theories of how energy is transferred from the ocean to the atmosphere don’t give enough energy to be able to power typhoons & hurricanes, so we’re trying to see if some of this ‘missing’ energy can be provided by sea-spray.

To do this, we’ve had some instrumented buoys moored in the Pacific Ocean, near Taiwan, where typically a large number of Typhoons pass every year. These measure wind speed, temperature, humidity and the amount of sea-spray whipped into the air by the wind, as well as the size of the waves and a few other things. This should allow us to tell if the amount of sea-spray in the air changes the amount of energy that the typhoons suck out of the ocean.

Below: One of the two sets of measurement buoys that were put out in the Pacific Ocean. The buoy on the left measures the size of the waves, while the boat-like buoy on the right measures wind speed, temperature and sea-spray (Image credit: Ian Brooks). Also the three typhoons that passed near the buoys: Typhoon Fanapi, Typhoon Chaba, and Super-Typhoon Megi.

ASIS and EASI buoys

Typhoon FanapiTyphoon ChabaSuper Typhoon Megi


My Typical Day

Generally spent in the office analysing data, reading or writing papers, and drinking lots of coffee!

What I'd do with the money

There are loads of pretty cool demonstrations in a tank you can do to show how ocean currents and weather systems work – I think I’d try to build a multifunctional version of one of these, and dontate it to a school, or take it round schools to demonstrate.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Adventurous, laid-back, geek.

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Changes regularly! I’ve been listening to a lot of The Divine Comedy and Muse recently.

What is the most fun thing you've done?

That’s a difficult one… probably scuba diving somewhere, but can’t be more specific that that.

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

Oh, just an interesting (and healthy) life – what more could you want?

What did you want to be after you left school?

I really didn’t know! I assumed it would be something sciency, but hadn’t given it much more thought than that. Though I did want to be a vet for a while when I was at school.

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

Sometimes. Usually for being a bit too cheeky than for anything serious, though.

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

Field work (both ship and aircraft-based) in the Arctic. I love the ice!!

Tell us a joke.

Two fish are in a tank. One looks at the other and says, “You man the guns. I’ll drive.” (There’s a reason I’m a scientist and not a comedian!)