Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

About the PNAS Member Editor
Name Bretherton, Christopher S.
Location University of Washington
Primary Field Geophysics
Secondary Field Applied Mathematical Sciences
 Research Interests
Chris Bretherton's research group studies cloud formation and turbulence and improves how they are simulated in global climate and weather forecast models. His research includes participating in field experiments and observational analyses, three-dimensional modeling of fluid flow in and around fields of clouds, and understanding how clouds will respond to and feed back on climate change. He and his group developed an influential new theory of how low-lying marine clouds over the cold waters west of the subtropical continent break up as they move further offshore. They also led modeling studies of how this will be influenced by greenhouse warming. They are studying how natural and human-induced aerosol particles affect these clouds, most recently over the Southern Ocean, where phytoplankton seem to be a major aerosol source in the spring and summer. They have documented how large-scale patterns of water vapor strongly interact with tropical rainfall to produce complex cloud organization. Computer code developed by his research group for simulating cloud formation by atmospheric turbulence is used in the two leading US climate models. Bretherton's group is currently exploring the potential of machine learning methods to improve our representation of low-lying marine cloud and cumulonimbus rainfall in global climate models.

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