Observations & Process Studies (OPS)

Group Leader: Lutz Hirsch


Our group uses observations and process level understanding to constrain the representation of climate in Earth System Models, and to evaluate theories and climate predictions. The main focus is on understanding clouds and their importance to the radiation budget of the Earth. In particular we pay attention to shallow cumulus in the trades, a regime that is critical by driving much of the uncertainty in future climate projections. A few of the questions we focus on are:


  • what is the impact of clouds and aerosols on the radiation budget?
  • what regulates precipitation from shallow systems across the trades?
  • are theire observational proxies for cloud changes into a warmer climate, e.g. cloud feedbacks?


By focusing on moist processes in the atmosphere, our research themes are closely connected to that of other working groups in the Department, including the HerZ group on clouds and convection, the climate dynamics group, and the new integrated project Tropical Vibes.


In our research we employ a wide variety of tools, including simulations with cloud resolving models, analysis and evaluation of satellite data products, including a new generation of active satellite remote sensors, airborne measurements with the new HALO research aircraft, and the development and maintenance of a state of the art observational facility on the Island of Barbados.