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Nigel Fox

Nigel Fox

NPL Fellow

Nigel joined NPL from University College London in 1981 with a BSc in Astronomy and Physics. Since that time he has been responsible for the establishment and dissemination of primary optical radiation measurement scales and in particular pioneered the development of techniques such as laser, cryogenic and filter radiometry. These techniques led to an improvement of nearly two orders of magnitude in the accuracy of many radiometric measurements and have been widely adopted by the international metrology community, and also resulted in the award of a PhD from the University of London.  Nigel has published more than 150 papers on a range of topics from primary optical radiation measurements through to climate monitoring, various book chapters and presented widely around the world though invited and other contributions and is a Fellow of the institute of physics.

Nigel became an NPL Fellow in 1997 and is currently the science lead for the Earth Observation, Climate and Optical group of NPL and Earth observation in general at NPL as a whole.  He is the NPL/UK representative on international metrology committees related to optical radiation measurement such as BIPM Consultative committee on Radiometry and Photometry (CCPR), its corresponding Euramet Technical Committee and also represents those bodies as a liaison on relevant WMO committees. During his career, he has also managed the resources and personnel of a 20 person research group and been the coordinator of several large EU projects, lead of a variety of ESA projects as well as many other international collaborations spanning not only Europe but also Asia and Americas. 

Over the last two decades Nigel has expanded his and consequently his groups interests to include Earth Observation and associated climate change parameters, with a particular emphasis on satellite observations. This has led to further innovation in both pre-flight and post-launch calibration and validation techniques and has culminated in the design and leadership of a proposed satellite mission called TRUTHS. The novel mission concept provides fully SI traceable measurements from orbit at uncertainties a factor ten lower than any other, sufficient to make benchmark measurements suitable for the detection of decadal climate change and allows the upgrade in performance of existing satellite sensors. Nigel has championed ‘Earth observation metrology’ on behalf of the World’s metrology community representing the UK on the Working Group on Calibration and Validation (WGCV) of the international space agency committee, Committee on Earth Observation satellites (CEOS) and chair of its Infrared, Visible and Optical Sensors (IVOS) sub-group, since 2006. He is a visiting professor in the Meteorology Department of the University of Reading and provides expert advice on QA/Cal/Val to UK government, ESA and various other international organisations on topics related to earth observation and climate.

Areas of interest

Nigel Fox’s current research interests include all aspects of optical radiometry (sources, materials and detectors) primarily over the spectral region 250 nm to ~ 50 μm, including particular skills in laser radiometry, cryogenics, vacuum instrumentation, detector/instrument design and characterisation. In the last two decades he has taken a particular interest in how to apply this to improve the accuracy of Earth observation and climate monitoring.  This includes: pre-flight calibration of satellite sensors, post-launch calibration and validation through sensor to sensor comparisons, establishing surface based test sites (Land and Ocean), development of quality assurance/traceability strategies and associated uncertainty evaluation for EO/climate data and derived bio-geophysical variables.

Email Nigel Fox