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Atmospheric Sciences Research

The department offers research programs that cover the range of the atmospheric sciences — from air composition to storm-chasing to climatology.

weather balloon

The following are some of the topics addressed by our research, with relevant faculty links.

Air-Sea Interaction

Diagnostic, analytical and modeling studies of coupled atmospheric and oceanic processes in the coastal zone and the open ocean, such as El Niño Southern Oscillation, hurricane-ocean interaction, land-sea breeze circulation, monsoon, marine atmospheric boundary layer, wind-wave interaction and storm surge. 

Faculty:  Sarah Larson, Lian Xie

Atmospheric Chemistry and Air Quality

Measurements and 3-D numerical modeling of emissions; transformation, transport and fate of pollutants; agricultural air quality; measurement and modeling of biogenic emissions of trace gases; field and laboratory measurements of atmospheric-biospheric interactions, atmospheric photochemical oxidants and gas-to-particle conversion; chemical characterization of aerosols and carbon isotopic systematics of biogenic methane formation and emissions; chemistry and dynamics of atmospheric aerosols and clouds, sensitivity and uncertainty analysis, and interactions among atmospheric chemistry, meteorology and climate change. The 3-D models for urban to global scale atmospheric simulations include MM5, WRF, WRF/Chem, CMAQ, CAMx and MIRAGE.

Faculty: Viney Aneja, Nicholas Meskhidze, Markus Petters, Russell Philbrick


Global, regional and local climate modeling; natural role of trace gases, aerosols, and clouds in global climate; impacts of climate changes on air pollutant emissions and air quality; bias introduced by urban heat islands in assessing global warming; use of long-range transport models to investigate source regions, movements and deposition patterns associated with pathogenic spore clouds; synoptic climatology of weather events associated with tropical and extra-tropical cyclones.

Faculty:  Sarah Larson, Lian Xie, Nicholas Meskhidze, Walt Robinson

Cloud Chemistry and Microphysics

Microphysical and chemical properties of clouds and precipitation; in-cloud processes for sulfur transformation and scavenging to determine the sulfate aerosol burden; the effectiveness of the cloud-nucleation process in precipitation scavenging of gaseous and particulate pollutants; the effect of cloud microphysics on chemical predictions; cloud-aerosol interactions in polar regions to improve understanding of the past climate deciphered from ice-core records; depletion of stratospheric ozone and role of polar stratospheric clouds; perception of visual and extinction properties of the atmosphere.

Faculty: Sandra Yuter, Nicholas Meskhidze, Viney Aneja, Markus Petters

Convective Dynamics and Physics

Emphasis on thunderstorms, severe convective weather, squall lines, supercells and tornadoes, extreme local precipitation, small-scale precipitation variability and marine stratocumulus drizzle.

Faculty: Matthew Parker, Sandra Yuter

Geophysical Fluid Dynamics

Atmospheric turbulence and diffusion; forest fire dynamics and prediction index development; wake vortex dynamics and their implications for aviation safety; Mars atmospheric dynamics and modeling (both mesoscale and global); coastal fluid dynamics.

Faculty: Lian Xie, Ruoying He

Meteorological Observations and Instrumentation

Scanning Doppler and polarimetric radar, vertically-pointing radar measurements of reflectivity, radial velocity, spectral width and wind; measurements of precipitation particle size distributions, rain and snow rates, soil moisture, and radiative fluxes; field project planning and deployment of instrumentation; emphasis on the integration of information from multiple, diverse sensors; applications focused on the formation of precipitation, its distribution in a variety of marine and continental settings, and cloud-radiative feedbacks.

Faculty: Sandra Yuter, Markus Petters, Russell Philbrick

Mesoscale Processes

Emphasis on mesoscale waves, orographic clouds and precipitation, mesoscale organization of and response to convection, lee and coastal cyclogenesis, and the mesoscale structure of precipitation in cyclones.

Faculty: Gary Lackmann, Matthew Parker, Lian Xie, Sandra Yuter

Satellite Remote Sensing

Observed and retrieved meteorological and chemical parameters from geosynchronous and low-earth orbit satellites; validation of retrieval algorithms; applications include the microphysical, precipitation, dynamical and electrical characteristics of individual clouds, convective cells, severe thunderstorms and mesoscale convective systems in the midlatitudes and tropics, aerosol optical depths, total column abundance of chemical species such as ozone, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen dioxides; integrating remote-sensing data products for improved agricultural air quality and nitrogen management.

Faculty: Sandra Yuter, Nicholas Meskhidze, Viney Aneja

Storm Structure and Dynamics

Analysis of convective and mesoscale data and simulations with the aim of improving our understanding of the structure and evolution of thunderstorms, mesoscale precipitation systems and their attendant severe weather.

Faculty: Matthew Parker

Synoptic-Dynamic Meteorology

Emphasis on winter storm dynamics and thermodynamics, topographic phenomena, heavy precipitation events, upscale impacts of organized convection and extratropical hurricane transition.

Faculty: Gary Lackmann

Tropical Meteorology and Climate

Structure of tropical storms and hurricanes, numerical modeling studies of the dynamics of the Indian southwest monsoon, and studies of the planetary boundary layer structure and diffusion processes in the tropics.

Faculty: Anantha Aiyyer, Lian Xie, Gary Lackmann, Sarah Larson, Matthew Parker, Sandra Yuter

Weather Systems and Forecasting

Enhanced understanding and forecasting of synoptic, mesoscale and convective weather systems via analysis of observations, theory and numerical simulations; formulation and refinement of conceptual models; improvements to numerical weather prediction models; close collaboration with the National Weather Service Forecast Office on campus.

Gary Lackmann, Matthew Parker, Lian Xie, Sandra Yuter