Faculty Profile

Olivier Pauluis

Professor of Mathematics and Atmosphere/Ocean Science
Warren Weaver Hall, Office 913


Ph.D., Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, Princeton University, USA, 2000.
M.S., Applied Mathematics, Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium, 1995.
B.S., Engineering, Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium, 1995.

Research Interests

My research interests are in both atmospheric and climate sciences. It aims at getting a better understanding of the current state of the atmosphere and of how it may change in the future. Within this broad set of issues, my main focus has been on the interactions between atmospheric circulation and the hydrological cycle. Here are some of the key questions I am trying to address:

What is structure of the global atmospheric circulation and how does it vary? The atmosphere exhibit a complex global circulation, with key features such as the InterTropical Convergence Zone, subtropical semi-arid region and midlatitudes stormtracks. These arise in part due to the thermal forcing induced by Sun and in part due to the internal dynamics of the atmosphere (and the oceans). By better understanding the factors that controls these important features of the atmosphere, we may be better able to anticipate the impacts of future climate change.

What maintains the atmospheric circulation? The atmosphere must continuously generate work to compensate for the frictional dissipation of kinetic energy. It does so by acting as a heat engine that transports energy from warm to cold. However, the behavior of this heat engine is highly affected by the hydrological cycle, which greatly reduces the atmosphere ability to generate kinetic energy.

How does convection interact with atmospheric flows at larger scale? Convection, aka clouds, is a very unique aspect of the Earth atmosphere. They occur at a relatively small scale - a few kms - but have a disproportionate impacts on the atmosphere through the release of latent of condensation. As such, they play a central role in many atmospheric phenomena, such as thunderstorms, hurricanes, nor’easter storms or the Indian Monsoon.

Selected Publications

O. Pauluis and A. Mrowiec, "Isentropic Analysis of Convective Motions", Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences 70, 3673-3688 (2013)
O. Pauluis, "Water Vapor and Mechanical Work: A Comparison of Carnot and Steam Cycles", Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences 68, 91-102 (2011)
O. Pauluis, A. Czaja, and R. Korty, "The global atmospheric circulation on moist isentropes", Science 321, 1075-1078 (2008)

Other Links