Severe Weather and Climate Group @ Stanford
The Severe Weather and Climate Group at Stanford is led by Dr. Morgan O'Neill in the Department of Earth System Science. The Group will move to the University of Toronto's Department of Physics in January 2024 - see 'Opportunities' tab for admissions information. We study the dynamics and thermodynamics of multiscale severe events, including supercell thunderstorms and hurricanes. The two-way feedbacks between these storms and the climate in which they occur is of importance to meteorologists, climate scientists and planetary scientists. In a changing climate, it is critical to accurately predict how the extremes to which we are accustomed will change in the future. The past and present climates of Earth, as well as those of other planets in our solar system, serve as physical laboratories in which we can observe a range of extreme phenomena.
The tools that our group uses to address these questions are varied, from simple theory and observations to complex numerical models that simulate realistic atmospheric phenomena. Because of the impossibility of recreating all the complexities of the atmosphere in a laboratory, our laboratory is a hierarchy of numerical models that approximate the equations of motion. Ultimately, numerical results and theoretical understanding must be tested against observations. We collaborate with other scientists and institutions to take the observations we need to validate our work. Our focus is on the genesis, evolution and environmental interaction of convective storms in a range of climates.
Paper out in Science
10 September 2021
Hydraulic jump dynamics above supercell thunderstormsby Morgan O'Neill, Leigh Orf @ U. Wisconsin Madison, Gerald Heymsfield @ NASA Goddard, and Kelton Halbert @ U. Wisconsin Madison
We find that the above-anvil cirrus plume (AACP), found above some thunderstorms and before some of the most severe weather on Earth, is the visible manifestation of a new type of hydraulic jump: one that is forced by the overshooting top of the thunderstorm itself. The lower boundary of the jump is a moving fluid of nearly the same composition as the air above it. An open access link to the paper can be found on the Publications page.
See Science's video explainer here:
Tropical Cyclone Diurnal Cycle Experiment
Our group is participating in the 2021 NOAA AOML/Hurricane Research Division field campaign: the Advancing the Prediction of Hurricanes EXperiment (APHEX). We deployed dropsondes from the NOAA Hurricane Hunter planes into Hurricane Larry this year and Hurricane Teddy last year to better understand the diurnal cycle, with scientists at NOAA, Florida State University and Purdue University. Due to the pandemic, we participate remotely. All observations from our and other HRD experiments are available to the public shortly after they are processed, and can be accessed here. Image courtesy the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).