The British Science Association was sad to learn of the passing of former President, Sir John Mason.

Sir John, who passed away 6 January 2015 aged 91, was an expert on cloud physics and dedicated his life to research. As director-general of the Meteorological Office from 1965-1983, Sir John embarked on a major modernisation programme and is credited for the institution’s global stature.

Born in Dorking, Norfolk, 18 August 1923, Sir John was educated at Fakenham Grammar School. During the Second World War, he served with the RAF Radar branch. He gained a First in Physics at University of London, and was appointed lecturer in the postgraduate department of meteorology at Imperial College, London in 1948.

During his time at Imperial, Sir John developed his expertise in cloud studies. In 1957 he published his study The Physics of Clouds in which he provided a mathematical expression of the formation or evaporation of water droplets in clouds — known as the Mason Equation. In 1961 Sir John was appointed the world’s first professor of cloud physics at Imperial.

Sir John joined the Met Office at a time of new focus and ambition towards atmospheric research. His distinguished record in scientific research and outstanding work as a physicist eased the Met Office’s transition into the computer age.  Sir John introduced objective numerical techniques to forecasting, which sent the Met Office’s monitoring and prediction work global.

Imran Khan, Chief Executive of the British Science Association said:

"The British Science Association was saddened by the passing of Sir John Mason, with whom we enjoyed a great affiliation. His impressive contribution to science created a lasting legacy, both through the Mason Equation, and the Met Office’s global reputation. The BSA was privileged to have had him as President, and an Honorary Fellow.

Sir John’s expertise with clouds saw his appointment as director of an acid rain research project in 1983. The report, published in 1990, was vital to understanding the relationship between coal-fired power stations and acid rain.

Sir John was appointed President of the British Science Association in 1983, and was made an Honorary Fellow in 2001. His achievements at the Met Office were recognised at a major exhibition in 1977 to mark the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, and he was knighted in 1979.

His expertise and intellectual vigour will be greatly missed, but his contribution to science lives on.