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Satellite image of storms

Hurricane Florence, TS Isaac, Hurricane Helene 2018

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. We study connections between multiscale severe events, including tornadoes 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 these models are tested against observations from current and past climates on Earth and other planets. Our focus is on the genesis, evolution and environmental interaction of rotating, convective storms, with emphasis on tropical cyclones and supercells.

Image is of Hurricane Irma (2017) on Sept. 6th in the infrared, courtesy NOAA.

Image is of Hurricane Irma (2017) on Sept. 6th in the infrared, courtesy NOAA.

Two hurricane hunting aircraft flying side by side

Our group is participating in the 2020 NOAA AOML/Hurricane Research Division field campaign: the Intensity Forecast EXperiment (IFEX). We will deploy dropsondes from the NOAA Hurricane Hunter planes into one or more strong hurricanes this season to better understand the diurnal cycle, with scientists at NOAA, Florida State University and Purdue University. We will participate remotely and help direct the flight patterns of the Hurricane Hunters into regions of interest. 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).