Derek J Posselt

Associate Professor

Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering, College of Engineering, University of Michigan


Few issues have the potential to affect the human population as significantly as the availability of fresh water. With the current changes in the Earth’s climate system, the distribution and intensity of rain and snowfall is changing in ways that are difficult to quantify and predict.  My research is driven by a desire to better understand the changes to precipitating cloud systems that occur in a changing climate, and each of my projects seeks to address one or both of the following two challenges:

  1. 1. While changes in the Earth’s climate are forced on global scales, the response to this forcing is expressed regionally. The regional response of cloud systems to climate forcing has a complex structure that arises from a multi-scale interaction between dynamics, radiation, the thermodynamic environment, and the cloud systems themselves. As such, to understand the effects of climate change, it is important to understand how global forcing translates to changes on the meso- and micro-scale and to understand these changes at the process level.
  2. 2. Information about cloud and precipitation processes is derived from two sources: observations and models.  Neither can provide complete information on the interaction between clouds systems and the immediate and far field flow and environment. It is reasonable to expect the best estimate of the state of the system will be obtained from an optimal combination of observational and model data. The study of cloud-climate interaction should therefore include research on data assimilation, as well as quantification of uncertainty in models and observations, model improvement, and the development of next-generation observing systems.

Research Topics