People > Dr Tim Smyth

Dr Tim Smyth

Head of Science - Marine Biogeochemistry and Observations

Contact Details

+44 (0)1752 633100 (switchboard)


Dr Tim Smyth is the Head of Science for Marine Biogeochemistry and Observations at PML. This involves leading a team of around 20 people ranging from PhD students to experienced senior scientists across a range of disciplines from air-sea exchange, nutrient cycling to molecular science within the broad remit of marine biogeochemistry. His brief also includes oversight of the Atlantic Meridional Transect (AMT) as well as the Western Channel Observatory (WCO: both NERC National Capability) which he has been leading for the past 15 years.

Since joining PML in 1997 as a data analyst and algorithm developer for the then newly launched SeaWiFS ocean colour satellite, his research interests have broadly encompassed theoretical and experimental atmospheric and in-water optics. He has a strong interest in developing innovative technologies for automated marine measurements including the WCO buoys, ship emissions and atmospheric aerosols.

He has around 280 days of sea-going experience including being Chief Scientist on two Atlantic Meridional Transect (2014, 2015) expeditions between the UK and Falkland Islands.

He has over 100 peer-reviewed ISI papers.


  • BSc. (Hons) Class I: Physics and Meteorology. University of Reading (1991 – 1994)
  • PhD: “Precipitation measurements in convective storms using multiparameter radar”. University of Reading (1997)


SCIPPER: Shipping Contributions to Inland Pollution Push for the Enforcement of Regulations

Contact: Dr Tim Smyth

The SCIPPER project deploys state-of-the-art and next-generation measurement techniques to monitor emissions of vessels under normal operation...

Artificial Light in Coastal Ecosystems (ALICE)

Contact: Dr Tim Smyth

Artificial light at night (ALAN) can now be detected above 22% of the world’s coasts, and will dramatically increase as coastal human...

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Selected key publications

Davies, T.W., McKee, D., Fishwick, J. et al. Biologically important artificial light at night on the seafloor. Sci Rep 10, 12545 (2020). doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-69461-6

Davies, TW, Smyth, T. Why artificial light at night should be a focus for global change research in the 21st century. Glob Change Biol. 2018; 24: 872– 882. doi:10.1111/gcb.13927

T. J. Smyth, G. A. Tarran, and S. Sathyendranath, "Marine picoplankton size distribution and optical property contrasts throughout the Atlantic Ocean revealed using flow cytometry," Appl. Opt. 58, 8802-8815 (2019). doi: 10.1364/AO.58.008802

T. J. Smyth, G. A. Tarran, and S. Sathyendranath, "Sub-micron picoplankton shape, orientation, and internal structure combined to preferentially amplify the forward scatter," Opt. Express 29, 2014-2024 (2021). doi: 10.1364/OE.413576

Loveday, B. R. and Smyth, T.: A 40-year global data set of visible-channel remote-sensing reflectances and coccolithophore bloom occurrence derived from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer catalogue, Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 10, 2043–2054, doi:10.5194/essd-10-2043-2018, 2018.

Smyth TJ, Allen I, Atkinson A, Bruun JT, Harmer RA, et al. (2014) Ocean Net Heat Flux Influences Seasonal to Interannual Patterns of Plankton Abundance. PLOS ONE 9(6): e98709. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0098709

Other activities

  • Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society (since 1998)
  • PML Senior Management Team (2020 - )
  • PML Science Team (2012 - )
  • PML Peer Review College - Chair
  • NERC Centres Research Excellence Panel member
  • NERC Peer Review College 
  • NERC Expert Scientific Moorings Assessment Group
  • NCAS Atmospheric Measurement and Observation Facility - advisory panel member