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Morgan E O'Neill

Morgan O'NeillI am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Earth System Science. I am an atmospheric scientist interested in the feedbacks between severe weather events and climate. The connections between multiscale severe events (including tornadoes, hurricanes, midlatitude snow 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. My work focuses on separating the physics that are fundamental to extreme events from the conditions imposed by a variety of climates. My prior research focused on applying tropical meteorology theory to giant planet dynamics. I am now increasingly interested in terrestrial problems, with an emphasis on the physics and fluid dynamics of severe convective storms.

The tools I use to address these questions are varied, from simple theory to complex General Circulation Models that simulate geophysical fluid dynamics. Because of the impossibility of recreating all the complexities of the atmosphere in a laboratory, my 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.

Much of my research currently focuses on hurricane dynamics that can lead to better forecasts on weather- and climate-relevant timescales. How do hurricanes modify the far environment? Can a hurricane beget another hurricane in time and space? Why are there ~90 hurricanes (tropical cyclones) globally, and not 1000? What does this tell us about hurricane packing on Earth? How will this number change in a warming world? Students interested in related questions may have the possibility of participating in a field campaign during hurricane season in 2019. I am additionally working with a collaborator on thunderstorm and supercell dynamics research using extremely high resolution simulations.


  • ESS 247: Tropical Meteorology (Spring 2019)
  • ESS TBD: Vortex Dynamics (Winter 2020)
  • ESS TBD: Planetary Atmospheres (Spring 2020)


  • BS, Physics, University of New Hampshire, 2009
  • PhD, Atmospheric Sciences, MIT, 2015

Previous Research Appointments:

  • Koshland Prize Postdoctoral Fellow
    • Dept. of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Weizmann Institute of Science 2015-2017
  • T. C. Chamberlin Postdoctoral Fellow
    • Dept. of the Geophysical Sciences, University of Chicago 2017-2018


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14 September 2018

Stanford's publication Earth Matters sat down with me to talk about Hurricane Florence:


11 September 2018

I offered Stanford's first-ever map discussion on the extremely active Atlantic basin - primarily focusing on Hurricane Florence. My discussion wasn't recorded, but if you want to see an excellent, hurricane-focused map discussion hosted at SUNY Albany the following day by my colleagues, they have posted it to YouTube.


4 September 2018

I arrived at Stanford! The department is great, the palm trees are majestic, and I have an opening for one PhD student to join my group! See Opportunities page.


8 March 2018

I am a coauthor on a new Nature paper: "Clusters of cyclones encircling Jupiter's poles." This reveals the first look at the bizarre vortex packing of Jupiter's poles. See coverage in National Geographic.


14 November 2017

Recorded seminar on our new paper about diurnally-forced waves in hurricanes, presented at NOAA/AOML's Hurricane Research Division in Miami, FL.


11 September 2017

I spoke on Fox 32's Good Day Chicago about Hurricane Irma's strength and size.