GFDL - Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory

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Leo J. Donner

Lecturer,  Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences

Physical Scientist, Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory

Research Interests: Cloud and Convective Processes in the Atmospheric General Circulation

Cloud and convective systems play important roles in the energy and water cycles in the atmosphere and are thereby important in a wide range of problems related to climate and large-scale atmospheric variability on shorter time scales. My research deals with the interactions between processes on the scales of clouds and convective systems and large-scale atmospheric flows. Several methods are used to study the effects of clouds and convective systems on the thermal, moisture and radiative fields which characterize the large-scale flows in which these systems develop. A primary application of this research is the development of parameterizations for clouds and convective systems for use in general circulation models.

Recent research has centered on ice clouds and deep cumulus convection. The factors which determine the distribution of atmospheric ice and its consequences for climate are under examination. A unified procedure for treating the thermodynamic, hydrological, and radiative interactions between deep convective systems and large-scale flows has been developed. Both ice clouds and deep cumulus convection play important roles in climate and climate change. General circulation models and high-resolution, limited-area cloud-system models are used in these studies, and data from satellite observations and field experiments are also employed. Some issues related to the role of cumulus convection in numerical weather prediction have also been addressed.

Selected Publications

Course: GEO 547. Atmospheric Thermodynamics and Convection

The course explores the thermodynamics of water-air systems. It gives an overview of atmospheric energy sources and sinks. Planetary boundary layers, closure theories for atmospheric turbulence, cumulus convection, interactions between cumulus convection and large-scale atmospheric flows, cloud-convection-radiation interactions and their role in the climate system, and parameterization of boundary layers and convection in atmospheric general circulation models are also studied.

Leo J. Donner
Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory/NOAA
Princeton University Forrestal Campus
201 Forrestal Road
Princeton, NJ 08540
(609) 452-6562
(609) 987-5063 (fax)