Research Areas

The Department of Meteorology and Climate Science continues its commitment toward maintaining active research programs in the atmospheric sciences. Meteorology faculty are currently involved in various projects supported by national agencies including NASA, the National Science Foundation and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. In most cases, both undergraduate and graduate students are actively involved in these research programs and work closely with faculty and staff. Research projects are directed at both local and global issues using models, and also through analysis of observations. Brief descriptions of current projects are given below (listed alphabetically).

Air Pollution/Urban Meteorology
Observation, simulation, and numerical modeling of the urban heat island (UHI) and of polluted coastal urban boundary layers. Specific interests include the alteration of weather and climate elements in cities due to urbanization and air pollution and the effects of the new urban climate on the spread of pollutants through the urban environment. Profs. FreedmanClementsChiao.

Global and regional climate modeling, natural role of trace gases, aerosols, and clouds in global climate, impacts of climate change 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, and synoptic climatology of weather events associated with tropical and extra-tropical cyclones. Profs. Bridger, Cordero, Diao.

Climate Change – Atmospheric Dynamics
Theoretical and numerical analysis of global and regional climate change as a result of both natural and anthropogenic factors. This work involves understanding how atmospheric variability affects and interacts with climate, and through simulations and analysis of global climate models. Profs. Cordero, Bridger.

Analysis of properties of clouds, cloud particles, and aerosols via aircraft and satellite data. Modeling work to understand the role of cirrus ice clouds in the climate. Prof.Diao.

Fire Weather and Wildfire Dynamics
Observations and simulations of conditions leading to severe fire weather in California. Field measurement campaigns, including the use of UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), are focused on making on-site observations of fire-induced winds, fire front propagation, fire-plume temperature and moisture perturbations, and resulting convection. Measurements and modeling of smoke emissions including PM2.5, Black Carbon and greenhouse gases and their impacts on local air quality and climate. Profs. Clements, Chiao.

Mars Weather
Studies of weather and climate on Mars using a state-of-the art computer model developed at NASA's Ames Research Center. We compare the simulated atmosphere with the real thing using data from missions such as the Mars Global Surveyor or the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. We use models to simulate and understand the development of global dust storms on present-day Mars. Prof. Bridger.

Mesoscale Processes
Emphasis on mesoscale waves dynamics, orographic precipitation and clouds, downslope winds, and drainage flows. Profs. Clements, Chiao.

Mountain Meteorology
Observational and modeling studies of boundary layer evolution in mountainous terrain. Specific topics include the development and dissipation of cold air pools and the evolution of valley and slope circulation systems. Ongoing research is focused on field studies conducted in Yosemite National Park to determine the role of valley winds on the transport of ozone and other pollutants from California's Central Valley to high-altitude regions in the Sierra Nevada. Profs. Clements, Chiao.

Regional Rain Modeling 
Analysis of local and regional rain patterns typical of northern California using computer models. This involves understanding the interacting roles of incomping synoptic fronts, atmospheric rivers, and the coastal mountain ranges. Profs. ChiaoBridger.

Regional Wind Modeling
Analysis of local and regional wind patterns typical of northern California using computer models. This involves understanding the roles played by the ocean, and the coastal mountain ranges in generating observed winds. Profs. ChiaoClementsBridger. For more information please see: SAN FRANCISCO BAY WIND PATTERNS.

Stratus Forecasting
Forecasting the time of stratus burnoff at San Francisco International Airport. For more information please see: SFO Marine Stratus Forecast Guidance and SFO Marine Stratus Forecast Guidance Web DisplayProf. Bridger.

Tropical Meteorology
Observational and modeling studies of hurricane rapid intensification processes; Studies of tropical cyclogenesis and Saharan dust effects in Atlantic region. Prof. Chiao.

Weather Systems and Forecasting
Research topics include synoptic, mesoscale, and convective weather systems via numerical modeling, analysis of observations, and theory. Profs. Bridger, Chiao.

Wind Energy Assessment
Observations and analysis of mesoscale wind patterns for the assessment of wind energy potential at specific sites in California and the western US. This research includes the deployment of towers and the departments Doppler SODAR system at remote locations for site-specific wind studies. Prof. Clements.


Predict rainfall and other hydrologic quantities in the south San Francisco Bay Area. Focusing on find-scale (1km) Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model to simulate intense atmospheric river storms affecting the area, to incorporate into our research and operational work streamflow and other hydrologic components from the National Water Model. Profs. Chiao, Freedman. 

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