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Research Overview


Atmospheric Chemistry

Research is focused on understanding the chemical composition of the atmosphere and its evolution to better determine impacts on climate, air quality, ecosystems and human health. Topics include modeling and measurement of aerosol particles and gases; studies of biosphere-chemistry-climate interactions, cloud formation, fog and cloud chemistry, and aerosol-cloud-climate interactions; laboratory and field studies of ice nuclei and their climate impacts; interpretation of satellite observations of tropospheric composition; studies of pollutant emission, transport and deposition; and studies of aerosol impacts on regional haze and air quality.


Climate and Atmosphere-Ocean Dynamics

Research is focused on large-scale dynamics of climate, including atmospheric and oceanic circulation systems, ocean-atmosphere interaction, interactions among physics, chemistry and biology of the coupled atmosphere-ocean-land system, stratosphere-troposphere coupling, and the dynamics of geophysical vortices such as the circumpolar vortex/current, extratropical cyclones and hurricanes. Extensive work is also being done in tropical meteorology, including interactions between tropical precipitation and the large-scale flow, monsoons, tropical cyclogenesis, hurricane dynamics, and interactions between hurricanes and climate.


Cloud Microphysics, Severe Storms and Mesoscale Meteorology

The focus of this topic is on the dynamic, microphysical and electrical characteristics of atmospheric phenomena that are mesoscale in size and duration. Such phenomena include thunderstorms; supercells; squall lines; mesoscale convective systems; cirrus, stratus and cumulus clouds; hurricanes and their substructures; mountain/valley circulations; atmospheric jets; sea/land breezes; and orographic flows. Research is conducted on convection, mesoscale instabilities, gravity currents and waves, precipitation physics, cloud ice and liquid water processes, atmospheric electricity, aerosol indirect effects, vortices, tornadogenesis, storm interactions, orographic influences, boundary layer processes, frontal processes, effects of surface heterogeneities, coastal boundaries, and urban effects on weather.

data assimilation

Data Assimilation, Machine Learning and Causal Discovery

Our research focuses on using and extending existing data assimilation, machine learning and causal discovery methods to enhance understanding of the functioning of the Earth system from small-scale microphysics to global climate, maximizing the information extracted from observational and model data.

PROGRESS program

Education and Human Resources

The department supports excellence in Earth science education through research to develop and strengthen programs of inclusion. Our research broadly focuses on mentoring historically marginalized scientists, broadening participation via formal and informal learning settings, and developing leaders that are better prepared to address representation and inclusion challenges in the Earth and environmental sciences.


Global Biogeochemical Cycles and Ecosystems

Cycling of chemical elements within and across atmospheric, oceanic and land reservoirs is essential for shaping the Earth’s chemical environment, sustaining living organisms and regulating greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Topics in this research area include fundamental process studies in oceanic and atmospheric biogeochemical cycles; numerical model development to better understand and simulate marine and terrestrial biospheres; modeling of the interactions between climate and biosphere; analysis of remote sensing and in situ data; and fusion of observational data and numerical models to uncover underlying processes related to global change.


Radiation and Remote Sensing

This topic focuses on understanding the interactions between solar and terrestrial radiation within the atmosphere and at the Earth’s surface, including effects of clouds, water vapor, aerosols and precipitation on the planet’s energy balance. Active areas of research involve studying the link between the energy balance of the atmosphere and the Earth’s hydrological cycle, climate radiation feedbacks, and basic research on atmospheric radiation and radiative transfer. The research is approached through a combination of both observations and modeling and promotes the development of advanced methods of remote sensing and retrieval theory, including the pioneering of new space-based measurements.