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Atmospheric Modeling at NYU
SPARC DynVar: The Dynamics and Variability of the atmosphere
Stratosphere-troposphere coupling and the S-RIP project
How should we characterize extreme variability of the stratosphere?
The Volcanic Model Intercomparison Project (VolMIP)

My group
Collaborators
Fun Stuff
My research

What does the natural variability of the atmosphere tell us about the Earth's climate and how it will respond to anthropogenic forcing?

How can simplified models help us understand the dynamics of the atmosphere?

These two questions have shaped my research, the former sharpening my focus, the latter my modus operandi.

Comprehensive Earth system models, as assessed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), have risen to the forefront of climate research. They are vital for making quantitative predictions of the impact of greenhouse gases and other "man made" perturbations to the climate system. These complex computer codes are a team effort -- requiring the resources of a national lab -- and built from a mixture of dynamics (i.e. physical laws and equations) and parameterizations (a scientific way to say "fudge factors") constructed to account for processes that are not well understood, or which are too complex to be simulated. Unfortunately the increasing complexity of climate models has come at the expense of their transparency. My research seeks to ground these comprehensive systems in our theoretical understanding of atmospheric dynamics, with the goal of both better understanding the climate system and improving our ability to simulate and predict it.

My work on the connection between climate change and natural variability (its temporal structure on intraseasonal time scales in particular) has helped open a new front for validating and testing comprehensive climate models. As suggested by fluctuation-dissipation theory, we have found that the ability of models to capture the temporal structure of natural variability is linked to the sensitivity of their climate to external forcing (e.g. Gerber et al. 2008, Kidston and Gerber 2010, Son et. al. 2010, and Garfinkel et al. 2013). The natural variability in comprehensive model simulations can be compared against that of the real atmosphere, allowing us to assess model predictions of future climate change with observations available today.

I have also encouraged the use of idealized atmospheric models to understand the dynamics of the atmosphere, helping to form a bridge between theory and comprehensive models (e.g. Gerber and Vallis 2007, Gerber and Polvani 2009, Gerber 2012, and Cohen et al. 2013). These numerical primitive equation models live in the space between analytic pencil and paper work, which cannot always capture all the relevant physical processes, and comprehensive atmospheric models, which are often too opaque to understand thoroughly. As an example of their usefulness, the connections between natural variability and climate change discussed above were first discovered and explored in idealized models, before we knew to look for them in comprehensive models!

To be more concrete, my research largely falls into these topics, and explores how the topics themselves are interconnected. In each case I've provided example articles.

  • Stratosphere-troposphere interactions
    Gerber et al. (2012) provides an introduction to this topic written for a broader audience, outlining how the stratosphere impacts the surface climate. Gerber and Polvani (2009) focuses on the role of stratospheric natural variability in coupling and establishes an idealized model for the stratosphere-troposphere system. I'm also leading a chapter on stratosphere-troposphere coupling for the S-RIP project.

  • Climate variability on intraseasonal to interannual timescales
    Two examples are Gerber et al. (2010) and Gerber and Vallis (2007), which explore natural variability of the extratropical jet streams in comprehensive and idealized models, respectively.

  • The general circulation of the atmosphere
    Gerber (2012) illustrates the joint roles of tropospheric wave driving and stratospheric diabatic forcing in controlling the meridional overturning circulation of the stratosphere, or Brewer-Dobson circulation, while Cohen et al. (2013) explores interactions between resolve Rossby waves and "unresolved" (i.e. parameterized) gravity waves.

  • The impact of anthropogenic forcing on the atmospheric circulation
    Gerber and Son (2014) shows how changes in stratospheric ozone have dominated summertime Southern Hemisphere tropospheric circulation trends in austral summer (the ozone hole moved the jet stream!), while Tandon et al. (2013) explores how the structure of tropical warming impacts the jet streams, with implications for how we understand the extratropical response to global warming and ENSO.

All of my published work can be found here, and provides a more complete view of my research.

My group

My research group at NYU is starting to bear fruit. I'm always looking for a few good men and women interested in research opportunities, including prospective postdocs, graduate students and undergraduates.

Group members
Martin Jucker (Postdoc)
Megan Lytle (PhD Student)

Past group members
Postdocs
Changhyun Yoo (2011-14, now at Yonsei)
PhDs
Naftali Cohen (2014, now at Yale)
Xichen Li (2014, now at Scripps)
Masters Students
Ho Yeung (Jacob) Hung (MS, 2014)
Undergraduates
Clement Chan ('11, now at AIG)
Po Shuen (Portia) Chan ('14, now at Berkeley)
Michael Hirsch ('11, now at U. Amsterdam)
Kelly Sielert ('10)

My collaborators


Joan Alexander (CoRA)
Mark Baldwin (Exeter)
Dargan Frierson (Washington)
Chaim Garfinkel (Hebrew University)
Joe Kidston (New South Wales)
Paul Kushner (Toronto)
Alan Plumb (MIT)
Lorenzo Polvani (Columbia)
Seok-Woo Son (Seoul National University)
Geoff Vallis (Exeter)
Mike Wallace (Washington)
Darryn Waugh (Johns Hopkins)

... and where I publish

American Meteorological Society
Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society
Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Journal of Climate
Monthly Weather Review

American Geophysical Union
Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Geophysical Research Letters
Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems

Nature Publishing Group
Nature

Royal Meteorological Society
Atmospheric Science Letters
Quarterly J. of the Royal Meteorological Society

Elsevier
Dynamics of Atmosphere and Oceans

Fun stuff

See the role of chloroflourocarbons (CFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in climate explained in literally 90 seconds.