Elizabeth Thompson

Image of Elizabeth Thompson


Research Meteorologist


Boundary Layer Observations and Processes




(303) 497-6930



Dr. Thompson is a Research Meteorologist studying physical processes in the atmosphere, upper ocean, and the air-sea interface. She collects and analyzes measurements of the ocean, air-sea fluxes, and atmosphere to understand the co-evolution of atmospheric and oceanic boundary layers. This has included research on precipitation microphysics, and how rain, wind, and sunlight control upper ocean stability. She is now assessing how such ocean variability relate to the growth or inhibition of clouds and precipitation. Her research uses dual- and single-polarization radars, satellites, disdrometers, as well as ocean and air-sea flux instrumentation deployed on ships and autonomous platforms. She has developed algorithms for predicting near-surface ocean stability, estimating precipitation rate from radar, and classifying precipitation type in clouds with radar. Elizabeth's research activities contribute to greater fundamental understanding of how the ocean and atmosphere interact via processes such as turbulence, cloud microphysics, precipitation extremes, the global water cycle, atmospheric thermodynamics, ocean stratification, and meteorological phenomena on synoptic- and meso-scales. Her research products support the improvement and evaluation of environmental prediction models, diagnostic nowcasting tools, and operational datasets used to monitor the ocean and atmosphere.

Dr. Thompson is committed to building and maintaining an inclusive, respectful, anti-racist lab. She engages in learning opportunities and actionable steps to create and invite more diversity, equity, and inclusion in the geosciences.

Research Interests

  • Coupled air-sea interaction processes
  • Atmospheric and oceanic boundary layers
  • Precipitation and clouds; radar and satellite meteorology
  • Synoptic and mesoscale meteorology
  • Physical oceanography


  • Ph.D., Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, 2016
  • M.S., Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, 2012
  • B.S., Meteorology, Valparaiso University, 2010

Professional Activities

  • Affiliate Scientist, Applied Physics Laboratory at University of Washington: 2019 - present
  • NASA Science Team Member: Precipitation Measurement Mission (PMM) Science Team, and the Ocean Salinity Science Team
  • NOAA Precipitation Prediction Grand Challenge
  • Prior: Senior Meteorologist (2018-2019) and Postdoctoral Research Associate (2016-2018) at the Applied Physics Laboratory at University of Washington

Professional Memberships

  • American Geophysical Union
  • American Meteorology Society

Honors and Awards

  • US CLIVAR Early Career Scientist Leadership Award: 2019
  • NSF Graduate Research Fellowship: 2012-2015
  • AMS Graduate Research Fellowship: 2010-2011
  • Valparaiso University Eugene M. Rasmussen Meteorology Scholarship and Service Award: 2010
  • NOAA Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Fellowship: 2008 - 2010

Related Links

Unlearning Racism in the Geosciences: https://urgeoscience.org/