David Martin Burridge, PhD, D.Sc, CBE

(ABGS 1956 - 1963)

Martin in 2004
Pictured in 2004 as Director of
ECMWF, Reading on his retirement

Martin arrived at the grammar school in September 1956 having attended Capcoch Primary School. He lived in Abercwmboi where his father ran the building firm G & R Burridge that was based in Mountain Ash. In the sixth form he took Double Maths and Physics and was taught by D.W. Price and Dalla Jones. Throughout the school he took an active part in music making, singing in the School and Glamorgan Youth Choirs, as well as playing the viola. His younger brother Adrian also attended the school and was an accomplished oboe player.

Martin progressed to Bristol University where he graduated with a first class degree in mathematics and went on to complete a Ph.D. in fluid dynamics. After a year teaching at Florida University, he joined the Met Office in 1970 as a research scientist. He transferred to the newly opened European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, (ECMWF), in 1975 and eventually became its director in 1991. He became a world authority on numerical methods as applied to weather forecasting and lectured world-wide on the subject.

Known as David at ECMWF, he had a distinguished record of both leadership style and achievement across a broad spectrum of operational weather forecasting. He made substantial contributions to the scientific literature on numerical methods, global modelling, data analysis and the diagnosis of atmospheric processes. He has been particularly active in promoting meteorology both within the UK and internationally, and he has participated in many working groups and committees covering satellite remote sensing and supercomputers, as well as meteorology. Within the UK, he was Chairman of the UK Universities’ Global Atmospheric Modelling Programme’s Scientific Steering Group from 1992 to 1996, and he has been an active supporter of the Royal Meteorological Society (Member of Council 1975-1978, Vice President 1990-1992 and 1999-2000, President 2000-2002). In 1995 he achieved national recognition through his appointment as a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, for services to meteorology. David is still active in meteorology and is associated with an organisation based in Geneva.

Martin in 2006 at Swansea
Pictured in the summer of 2006
at Swansea University when
he received an Honorary
Fellowship of the university.

In 2005 he received an honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of Reading and in 2006 he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the University of Swansea. The photograph, left, was taken at the Swansea function in the summer of 2006. More recently, September 2010, the European Meteorological Society (EMS) has chosen David as Laureate of the EMS Silver Medal 2010. He was honoured for his outstanding leadership and scientific contributions in the field of numerical weather prediction. Additionally, he is credited with the ability to explain convincingly scientific issues to experts as well as being a most effective communicator of his work to the public and the media in an understandable way. The Silver Medal ceremony, included a Silver Medal Lecture by David, and was held in September 2010, during the EMS Annual Meeting and European Conference on Applied Climatology (ECAC) at ETH in Zürich, Switzerland.

Since retirement from ECMWF in 2004, he has been enthusiastically, and effectively, shaping and steering the implementation of the WMO’s THORPEX Programme, which is is a 10-year international research and development programme to accelerate improvements in the accuracy of one-day to two-week high impact weather forecasts for the benefit of society, the economy and the environment.

David lives near Reading with his wife Marilyn, née Hylands, from Godreaman. They were married in 1969 and have two daughters, Claire and Louise, who are both teachers.

A more complete description of David’s work is to be found in the ECMWF Newsletter 101. This is in pdf format, and is a very large file (7.53 MB) which will take a long time to download on slow connections. The tributes to Dr Burridge can be found on pages 33 to 37 as marked on the Newsletter pages. Click here to open the Newsletter.