Dr Katy Sheen
Lecturer in Physical Geography


I completed an MSci in physics at the University of Cambridge, where I continued to study for a PhD in geophysics. My PhD thesis focused on developing an acoustic method of mapping out oceanic structure, known as seismic oceanography. This work sparked off my interest in physical oceanography, and I subsequently joined the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton as a post-doctoral researcher in Southern Ocean physics. Following this, I worked as a senior scientist in the inter-annual and decadal climate prediction team at the Met Office Hadley Centre. I joined the University of Exeter in 2016 as a lecturer in physical geography.

Broad research specialisms:

My research explores the physics of our oceans and atmosphere. Using both observations and models, I am interested in how the physical processes within our Earths climate system work, and how they may respond to a changing climate.

To date, my work has largely been focused on the remote Southern Ocean, where I have spent many months in the field collecting information about abyssal turbulent mixing processes. These measurements are important because they ultimately influence the uptake of heat and carbon by the oceans. I am also developing an autonomous acoustic method of sampling temperature and salinity horizons in the oceans. Because these measurements have high spatial resolutions, they will help to answer fundamental questions about important smaller-scale oceanic processes, otherwise very difficult to capture.

More recently, I have expanded my research to atmospheric physics and climate modeling. I have been looking at how well climate models can predict summer rainfall levels in the Sahel region of Africa, an area particularly vulnerable to persistent and devastating droughts. I’m particularly interested in the mechanisms that drive Sahel rainfall variability on different timescales, and how they are modulated by changes in the global oceans.


2010 PhD Earth Sciences (University of Cambridge)
2005 MSci in Natural Sciences (University of Cambridge)

Contact details

Tel+44 (0) 1326 255532
AddressPeter Lanyon Building
University of Exeter
Penryn Campus
Treliever Road
TR10 9FE
Office hours

Tuesday 2-3 pm

Thursday 10-11 am

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