Atmosphere–Ocean Processes

Leads: Michael Alexander and Juliana Dias

The connection between Earth’s oceans and atmosphere has a direct impact on the weather and climate conditions experienced around the globe. For example, warmer than normal ocean temperatures in the tropics can alter weather patterns, causing drought over the western US, while bringing extreme rains to the southeast. Understanding the processes driving these types of interactions is a key component in improving forecasts and warnings. This information can help keep communities safe and guide decisions related to such issues as water management, emergency planning, and ecosystem resilience.

PSL's Atmosphere-Ocean Processes Team investigates the roles of ocean processes, air-sea interaction, and tropical-extratropical exchanges on climate variability. We use a combination of data analysis and modeling to better understand and characterize some of the physical mechanisms driving Earth's weather and climate, from time scales ranging from days to decades.

Current Research Activities

el nino
ANALYZING multiple aspects of El Niño and the Southern Oscillation (ENSO), including its precursors, prediction, diversity, and climate and ecosystem impacts.
INVESTIGATING how climate fluctuations influence marine ecosystems, including the identification of potential tipping points.
STUDYING how water vapor and ozone are transported and mixed from the stratosphere down to the surface and subsequently impact precipitation and air quality.
mjo plot
EVALUATING the extent to which air-sea interaction and upper ocean processes impact phenomena such as the Madden and Julian Oscillation (MJO).
sea ice
CHARACTERIZING the atmospheric response to sea ice, snow cover, anomalies and changes in the position and strength of sea surface temperature fronts.
windy beach
IDENTIFYING feedback processes between intense rainfall and large-scale tropical weather to provide targets for model development.
Rainstorm photo courtesy Jerome Olivier, Flickr Creative Commons
QUANTIFYING the impact of tropical-extratropical dynamics & moisture transport on development of extreme weather events including heavy precipitation in the Western US.
sst change map
DEVELOPING web-based tools for displaying and disseminating present and future climate states and extremes, and sub-seasonal variability.
IDENTIFYING large-scale atmosphere-ocean processes that lead to improved forecasts on timescales of weeks to years.