Barry graduated from Durham University in 1976 with a BSc (Hons) in Physics. He then worked for 2½ years with the British Antarctic Survey as a meteorologist/physicist making synoptic and upper air meteorological measurements along with measurements of ozone and solar radiation. Barry then completed a PhD at the University of Manchester investigating the development of clouds and fogs in Britain, Germany and the United States. Following his PhD he accepted a position at the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nevada to investigate thunderstorm electrification. After 2 years he became Director of the Precipitation Physics and Chemistry Laboratory with responsibility for a number of large scale programmes investigating winter storm systems in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California.
In 1987 he joined the Forestry Commission with particular responsibility for investigating wind damage to trees and airflow in complex terrain. Full scale experiments have been carried out to measure turbulence and wind loading in forest canopies and complementary experiments have been conducted in a wind tunnel using 1:75 scale model trees. At a larger scale a number of field campaigns have been conducted to determine the effect of topography on wind speeds in complex terrain. Other work investigated the microclimatology of agroforests and shelterbelts, the development of turbulence over forest edges and the adaptive growth of trees in response to the wind. These data have been used to develop and test computer models of tree mechanical behaviour and airflow over forests.. These models form the basis for an integrated computer based model (ForestGALES), which is able to predict the risk of wind damage for forests in complex terrain.
Since 1997 Barry has been involved in the measurement and prediction of the quality of timber in coniferous trees growing in Britain. A primary interest has been the development of Sitka spruce and Scots pine timber properties models based on the growth predictions of models developed by the Forest Research. Such models are designed to predict the wood properties of importance for the wood processing industries (e.g. wood density, knot size and status, grain angle, microfibril angle, stiffness, fibre length, fibre width, etc.). Other work involves investigating the influence of climate change on wood properties, the impact of conversion to Continuous Cover Forestry (CCF) on timber quality and supply, and developing indicative measures to aid the management of Scots pine and Sitka spruce forests. This work is carried out in collaboration with colleagues at BRE, SIRT (Edinburgh Napier University and University of Glasgow), University of Aberdeen, INRA (France) and Inventia (Sweden).
Barry also continues to be actively involved in the development of the wind damage risk model ForestGALES. In particular he is working closely with other colleagues to extend the model to cover alternative silvicultural systems and to adapt the system for use in other parts of the world (Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Denmark, Sweden, USA and France).
From December 2011 Barry has been employed as a senior scientist at INRA-Bordeaux as part of a 4 year programme of work to develop landscape level methods for minimising wind damage risk to forests. This work is in collaboration with colleagues in Forest Research and in CSIRO, Australia.