Atmosphere–Ocean Processes

Lead: Michael Alexander

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 and predictability. We use a combination of data analysis and modeling to better understand and characterize physical mechanisms driving Earth's weather and climate, on time scales ranging from days to decades both to advance understanding and improve forecasting.

Current Research Activities

IDENTIFYING large-scale atmosphere-ocean and atmosphere-land processes that lead to improved forecasts on timescales of weeks to years.
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 variability and change influence marine ecosystems.
mjo plot
EVALUATING sources of tropical forecast errors associated with rainfall processes.
IDENTIFYING feedbacks between intense rainfall and tropical weather systems to improve how processes are represented in forecast models.
Two people under an umbreslla in a rainstorm
QUANTIFYING the impact of tropical-extratropical interactions and moisture transport on extreme weather events, including heavy precipitation in the Western US.
sea ice
CHARACTERIZING sources of predictability on time scales ranging from weeks to decades, including identifying “windows of opportunity” when high forecast skill may be predicted in advance.
WRIT correlation plot
DEVELOPING data-based models that can be used to understand climate dynamics and provide useful forecast tools.
STUDYING interactions between the upper and lower atmosphere to improve precipitation and air quality forecasts over North America.
sst change map
DEVELOPING web-based tools for displaying and analyzing present day atmospheric variability and future climate states simulated by computer models.