Peter Clark gained a BA in Natural Sciences (Physics and Theoretical Physics) from the University of Cambridge (Churchill College) in 1979 and was awarded an MA in 1983. From there he went straight into industry, working in the, then, publicly-owned electricity generating industry (CEGB) at the Central Electricity Research Laboratories in Leatherhead.
There he worked on various aspects of air pollution. This included both modelling and major collaborative field projects with the Met Office on the long-range transport of sulphur-based pollutants and acid rain, and with UMIST on chemical transformations in cloud, as well as some work on shorter range problems such as the fate of HCl emissions and ozone generation from urban areas. During the late 1980s until 1992 Peter was a member of both the Department of the Environment Photochemical Oxidants Review Group and their Review Group on Acid Rain.
Peter joined the Met Office in 1992 and, after a brief stay in the Met. Research Flight in Farnborough, moved to work on fog-forecasting problems within the Met Office’s mesoscale forecasting model (the Unified Model).
In 1995 he became manager of the Local Forecasting R&D Group, which developed a '1.5 D' version of the Unified Model called the SSFM for enhancing local forecasts from the main forecast models. This became a central component of the Met Office's local forecasting system.
At the end of 1998 he moved to the Joint Centre for Mesoscale Meteorology located in the Meteorology Department of Reading University to manage the Mesoscale Modelling Group and lead the development of the next generation of short-range forecast model, capable of directly representing thunderstorms and predicting extreme rainfall events and flash flooding. This has lead to a new model ("UKV") going operational in 2009 supporting new flood-related warning services.
A general interest in meso- and urban- scale meteorology has lead to involvement in a variety of projects, including developing the Met Office’s services for wind farms and advice on urban wind generation to the Carbon Trust. As 'Strategic Head of Joint Research Centres' he took on overall responsibility for both the JCMM and the Joint Centre for Hydrometeorological Research at the end of 2008.
Peter left the Met Office in 2010 to take up a Chair in Environmental Flow Modelling at the University of Surrey. This post was joint between the Departments of Mathematics and Civil, Chemical and Environmental Engineering. He left in 2012 to join the Department of Meteorology as Joint Met Office Chair in Weather Processes. In this role he looks after the Met Office Academic Partnership with Reading University.
Current research interests cover a variety of topics relevant to high-resolution atmospheric modelling. These include the initiation, development and predictability of convective storms, mechanisms for the development of extreme winds in extra-tropical cyclones, very stable flows in complex terrain and the representation of urban areas in mesoscale models.
In his spare time Peter plays tenor saxophone surprisingly badly, and an EWI4000s electronic wind instrument. He records his own compositions in a genre popularly known as 'Ambient Shed'.