CW3E Announces 4 New Post-Doctoral Positions

Post-Doctoral Positions Available at the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes

August 3, 2017

Location: La Jolla, California
Deadline: Positions are available immediately. Applications will be considered until positions are filled. Preference will be given to applications received by 1 September 2017.
Number of new positions available: 4

The Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes (CW3E), is a research and applications center established in 2013 at Scripps Institution of Oceanography by its Director, Dr. F. Martin Ralph. CW3E focuses on the physical understanding, observations, weather predictions, seasonal outlooks and climate projections of extreme weather and water events to support effective policies and practices to improve resilience in the Western U.S. Funding for this set of Postdoctoral positions is in place from several federal, state and local agencies, with a major emphasis on the unique science and applications needs associated with water supply and flood risk in the Western United States. CW3E carries out its goals with a diverse network of research and operational partners at more than ten other institutions across the U.S. Individuals will be joining a group of several existing Postdoctoral scholars and graduate students, and a number of experienced faculty, researchers and staff at Scripps who are involved with CW3E.

Per normal Postdoctoral appointment policies, all positions are envisioned as being initially for 1-year, with extension possible contingent upon performance and availability of funding. The University of California, San Diego is an AA/EOE.

Interested individuals are encouraged to submit their resumes and a 1-page statement of relevant personal interests, goals, range of potential start dates and at minimum two references. These should be sent to the person listed below as the “position coordinator” for the position you are interested in.

Applicants should have 0-2 years of Postdoctoral experience, or be nearing completion of their Ph.D. (estimated within 3 months), and be self-motivated and hard-working. Good written and verbal communication skills, including the ability to produce scientific publications and presentations and meet project milestones are required. Strong analytical backgrounds with a Ph.D. in atmospheric science, meteorology, atmospheric chemistry, climate science, hydrology or environmental engineering is preferred. Programming experience working in a Unix environment with experience in scripting languages such as Python, Perl, R and Matlab along with true programming language experience in C and Fortran is highly desired. Experience with using high performance computing is also desired. Successful applicants should be comfortable independently working with large code libraries and producing novel visualizations.


Position 1: Hydrometeorological Advancements for Management Decision Support

CW3E position coordinator – Dr. Brian Henn;

CW3E seeks a Postdoctoral researcher to design and contribute to efforts that lead toward improved operational application of distributed hydrologic and hydrometeorological sciences. The position would work on research that improves hydrologic model performance associated with extreme events. Anticipated methodologies include data assimilation (DA) techniques that leverage in-situ soil moisture observations and remotely sensed observations, improving hydrologic model parameterization and determining the most appropriate unbiased atmospheric forcing’s for hydrologic model applications from NWP output. Additionally the candidate would develop guidelines for parsimonious application of hydrologic models in time and space and evaluation processes and metrics for hydrologic model simulations and forecasts that isolate areas of potential improvement. The research would support the development, by the candidate, of a prototype decision support system that combines a variety of observed and forecast information to aid in operational decision making. Through the research the candidate would continually develop and support a connection between CW3E and California-Nevada River Forecast Center operational forecasts systems. The candidate should have experience with hydrological model development, calibration, application, and verification. Additional experience in developing observed datasets for forcing hydrologic models and operating hydrologic and hydraulic models in a forecasting mode using NWPs or other sources is also desired.


Position 2: Aerosols Influence on Winter Precipitation

CW3E position coordinator – Dr. Amato Evan;

CW3E seeks a Postdoctoral researcher to investigate the manner by which aerosols influence wintertime precipitation in the western US, with a focus on ice nuclei from marine and terrestrial sources, using high-resolution numerical modeling. The goal of this work is to improve basic understanding of aerosol-cloud interactions and their affect upon precipitation from atmospheric rivers to improve forecasts of precipitation from such events. In order to address the scientific needs of the project the postdoctoral scholar will be expected to design, implement and validate aerosol emission, transport, removal, cloud condensation and ice nuclei activation models within West-WRF, which is a version of the Weather Research and Forecast Model (WRF) that has been developed at CW3E to improve the accuracy of forecasting extreme precipitation events and as a testbed for understanding the physical processes that drive extremes in weather. These activities will be conducted in collaboration with a team of students, faculty and scientists at CW3E. The successful candidate will have the opportunity to present at conferences and will be expected to publish major results in peer-reviewed journals as first author.


Position 3: Terrestrial Water Storage

CW3E position coordinator – Dr. Julie Kalansky;

We seek a postdoctoral researcher to investigate variability in regional terrestrial water storage, including groundwater and snowpack, as revealed by a growing archive of GPS crustal displacements collected throughout California and across the United States. The GPS-inferred water storage contains variability over a range of time scales, much of which is driven by extreme events from synoptic scale storm activity to interannual wet and dry spells. Regionally, the high density of the GPS network may afford resolution at 10’s of km scales and thus provide new insight into catchment water balances. This investigation will require synthesis and comparison with other observational data, along with model-simulated hydrological variability. The postdoc will use the GPS data for information about snowpack and groundwater and relate these to weather and climate events. As part of the project, the postdoc may develop online tools for tracking this information for decision support. Support for this position will come from CW3E, in partnering with CNAP ( and the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics ( The post-doc should be familiar with climate and hydrological phenomena in western North America.


Position 4: Mesoscale Dynamics and Predictability of Atmospheric Rivers

CW3E position coordinator – Dr. Jason Cordeira;

The position will explore the mesoscale dynamics and predictability of ARs affecting the western U.S. coast. The research will use a variety of observational and modeling-based tools and analysis techniques to diagnose the multiscale processes associated with persistent AR conditions culminating in extreme precipitation. The candidate should have experience forecasting extreme events from an operational or modeling perspective, and the ability to conduct in depth case studies and verification analyses. The position will involve participation in an atmospheric river airborne reconnaissance project “AR Recon” effort that is aimed at improving the 1-to-3-day skill of AR landfall forecasts. For example, the incumbent will develop methods to utilize targeting observations in order to improve prediction of mesoscale frontal waves that are key to determining position and duration errors associated with landfalling ARs. The project involves active collaboration with NCEP (GFS) and the Navy (COAMPS) to identify, analyze, and diagnose dynamical processes associated with skillful AR landfall and precipitation characteristics. The candidate should have strong knowledge of mesoscale and synoptic-scale atmospheric dynamics and forecasting techniques, including but not limited to frontal circulations, jet streaks, cyclone kinematics, multiscale precipitation processes, data assimilation, and mesoscale modeling.

American Geophysical Union Publishes Collection of Atmospheric River Publications in Geophysical Research Letters

American Geophysical Union Publishes Collection of Atmospheric River Publications in Geophysical Research Letters

July 27, 2017

The American Geophysical Union recently published a special hand selected collection of papers on atmospheric rivers that have been published in Geophysical Research Letters.​​

Atmospheric rivers are a relatively new phenomena in atmospheric science that have become a popular subject of meteorological, hydrological, and climatological research due to their influence on global moisture transport, extreme precipitation, flooding, drought mitigation, and water supply. The collection in GRL highlights the research that has been published over the past three decades beginning with Newell et al’s seminal paper, which introduced the term “tropospheric river.”

Papers from numerous CW3E researchers and collaborators are featured in the collection which discuss topics ranging from extreme precipitation to the influence of climate change on atmospheric river characteristics. The collection of papers can be found here

CW3E Begins Installation of Instrumentation in the Russian River Watershed

CW3E Begins Installation of Instrumentation in the Russian River Watershed

July 7, 2017

CW3E began its summer fieldwork campaign in the Russian River watershed last week with the installation of surface meteorology, soil moisture and streamflow instruments. Pictured are CW3E members and collaborators from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Sonoma County Water Agency after installing soil moisture sensors on the Corps’ property at Lake Mendocino. The observations from the fieldwork campaign will provide information on precipitation, soil moisture and streamflow during cool-season atmospheric rivers (ARs) that produce the majority of the inflows to Lake Mendocino. The reservoir is a focus of the Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations project, which assesses the potential to enhance water resources and flood control operations with hydrometeorological forecast data. The surface meteorology and hydrology data from the field campaign will complement additional observations of the atmosphere made by CW3E, NOAA and other project collaborators.​​

CW3E members and collaborators stand near the finished instrumentation tower with Lake Mendocino in the background. From left to right: Chad Hecht (CW3E), Will Chapman (CW3E), Kyle Evans (Sonoma County Water Agency), Steve Turnbull (US Army Corps of Engineers), Anna Wilson (CW3E), Douglas Alden (CW3E).

CW3E Participates in Western States Water Council Visit to UC Davis’ Bodega Marine Lab

CW3E Participates in Western States Water Council Visit to UC Davis’ Bodega Marine Lab

July 1, 2017

CW3E members were on hand recently at UC Davis’ Bodega Marine Lab to introduce some of the key instrumentation located there to sample atmospheric rivers (ARs). The audience included members of the Western States Water Council (WSWC), California Department of Water Resources (DWR), and Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA). The audience toured state-of-the-art onsite instrumentation and learned about its significance for forecasting and research into ARs. This instrumentation included the Atmospheric River Observatory, which was installed as part of the California Enhanced Flood Response and Emergency Preparedness network (partners include DWR, NOAA, and Scripps), and has been making observations consistently at this location since 2004, as well as instrumentation installed during the past winter by CW3E to observe surface microphysics and vertical precipitation structure. CW3E collaborator Bruce Cornuelle gave a talk on the importance of ocean observations for numerical weather prediction at all scales, including subseasonal to seasonal. The conclusion of the visit featured a demonstration radiosonde release at Bodega Bay. 275 sondes in total were released by CW3E during historically wet Jan-Mar 2017 at the Bodega Marine Lab as well as an inland location to assess water vapor transport by ARs as they move inland and interact with the terrain.

Fig.1. Bruce Cornuelle gives a talk on the importance of ocean observations for numerical weather prediction and subseasonal to seasonal forecasting. Image also includes a model of an ARGO float ( Photo courtesy CA DWR.

Fig.2. CW3E (a), WSWC (b), and SCWA (c) members before the demonstration radiosonde launch.
Photos courtesy CA DWR.

Points of contact: Anna Wilson, Marty Ralph.

CW3E Update: Flood Risk From Snow Melt

CW3E Update: Flood Risk From Snow Melt

May 23, 2017

Click here for a pdf of this information.

Anomalously Warm Temperatures Expected to Contribute to Melting Snowpack and Elevated Runoff

  • High temperatures of 60–80˚F (16–26˚F) are forecast for the higher elevations of the Sierra Nevada Mountains over the next several days
  • The higher than normal water year to date precipitation over much of the West Coast has created snow packs that are much greater than normal over most of the Sierra Nevada Mountains
  • The combination of anomalously high temperatures and snow pack is forecast to lead to increased runoff and potential flooding
  • The National Weather Service has issued flood watches and warnings for several locations in California
  • Loop of GFS Forecast Surface Temperatures

    Valid 1200 UTC 23 May – 1200 UTC 30 May 2017




    Summary provided by C. Hecht B. Kawzenuk and F.M. Ralph; 12 PM PT Tuesday 23 May 2017

CW3E Outreach at Local Elementary School

CW3E Outreach at Local Elementary School

May 15, 2017

CW3E’s Brian Kawzenuk, Chad Hecht, and Anna Wilson recently visited La Costa Meadows Elementary School to discuss some of the unique observations and tools that meteorologists use to study the atmosphere. Over 1000 students from kindergarten to fifth grade joined to observe and discuss meteorological ground instrumentation and a weather balloon launch. Discussion focused on how the instrumentation works, what they measure, how the observations can be useful to understanding the atmosphere, and how this knowledge and research can be used to improve forecasting and water resource management. During the demonstration students were actively engaged, asked numerous questions, and two assisted in releasing the weather balloon.

After the balloon launch, fourth and fifth grade students were invited to a more in depth discussion and presentation on meteorology, which focused on several aspects that are related to their science curriculum. Topics covered included data gathered from radiosonde launches, radar and satellite observations, storm systems and fronts, and forecasting and atmospheric models. This discussion gave students the opportunity to discuss and ask more questions about the atmosphere and how it is studied. Overall, the event proved to be a valuable experience for both students and staff.

Left: Anna Wilson and Chad Hecht prepare a radiosonde and weather balloon at La Costa Meadows Elementary School. Right: Brian Kawzenuk describes the process of performing a weather balloon launch while Chad and Anna prepare to hand off the balloon and radiosonde to two students.

Key California precipitation index hits record yearly level after only 7 months

Key California Precipitation Index Hits Record Yearly Level After Only 7 Months

April 13, 2017

Click here for a pdf of this information.

A key index of California precipitation observations at eight stations in the Northern Sierra Nevada has set a new record high level after less than 7 months, beating the previous record that took 12 months of accumulation to set. A series of atmospheric rivers (ARs) that brought heavy precipitation to the state, especially in Jan and Feb, largely accounts for the record total accumulation.







Summary provided by F.M. Ralph, D. Pierce, C. Hecht, M. Dettinger, and D. Cayan; 2 PM PT Thursday 13 April 2017

CW3E Shares Science with Prospective Students at Triton Day

CW3E Shares Science with Prospective Students at Triton Day

April 13, 2017

Each year, the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) organizes Triton Day, a day for prospective undergraduate students and their families to explore the campus and all it has to offer. Falling on Saturday, April 8th this year, Triton Day provided visitors with information on everything from academic tracks and requirements to financial aid and support for adjusting to college life. Tours of the UCSD main campus and Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) were also offered throughout the day.

CW3E shared current research efforts during the the day’s Academic Information Fair. Prospective students and family members were drawn in by the various weather instruments on display, measuring wind speed and direction, temperature, humidity, rainfall amount, atmospheric pressure, and incoming solar radiation.

Similar instruments are used by CW3E to make observations helping address weather and water-related science questions. Researchers, including graduate and undergraduates students, use measurements from these instruments to study atmospheric rivers and their impacts. Observations also feed into CW3E’s weather model, West-WRF, which is specifically tailored to provide forecasts for the West Coast.

Douglas Alden, engineering mentor, and Tashiana Osborne, Climate Sciences graduate student, speaking with visitors about meteorological instruments and ongoing CW3E research. Photo credit: Brittany Hook; SIO Communications Coordinator.

CW3E Visits the NWS California Nevada River Forecast Center

CW3E Visits the NWS California Nevada River Forecast Center

March 31, 2017

The NWS California Nevada River Forecast Center (CNRFC) in Sacramento, CA, which provides essential hydrologic forecasts to stakeholders, recently hosted CW3E’s Dr. Anna Wilson for a day of shadowing CNRFC team members. She benefitted greatly from observing the operating procedures of expert Hydrometeorological Analysis and Support (HAS) forecasters Holly Osborne and Kyle Lerman, and Senior Hydrologist Pete Fickenscher. Dr. Wilson was also able to tour the State-Federal Flood Operations Center. This is collocated with the CNRFC, NWS Sacramento, and the California Department of Water Resources to leverage those agencies’ strong commitment and significant contributions to supporting emergency and water management agencies in California. The CW3E visit to CNRFC offered an opportunity to share perspectives on the historic 2016-2017 winter season, and to talk about current research activities, modeling efforts, and topics of common interest.

From left to right: Holly Osborne (CNRFC HAS Forecaster), Mike Imgarten (CNRFC Hydrologist), Anna Wilson (CW3E postdoc), Kyle Lerman (CNRFC HAS Forecaster), and Scott Staggs (CNRFC Senior Hydrologist).

Weather on Steroids: The Art of Climate Change Science

Weather on Steroids: The Art of Climate Change Science

March 9, 2017

La Jolla Historical Society: February 11 – May 21

San Diego Public Library: June 10 – September 3

Click here for a pdf file of this information.


Weather on Steroids explores the consequences, challenges, and opportunities that arise from the changing climate on our planet. The exhibition partners artistic and scientific communities to create a visual dialogue about the vexing problem of climate change, and explores how weather variability affects the day-to-day life of local communities. The exhibition investigates Southern California vulnerability to climate change, and draws on the region’s scientific expertise at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, whose investigators are at the forefront of climate research. Weather on Steroids brings together artists and scientists to reflect on humanity’s role in our changing climate and to envision new possibilities for a sustainable future. The focus is on weather extremes fueled by the steroids of climate change and their impacts on society: heat waves, atmospheric rivers, and drought with impacts on health and agriculture; deluges, sea level rise, and coastal erosion; extreme winds and devastating wildfires. Science serves as a basis and inspiration for imaginative and creative responses from artists. Artists’ subjective images and scientists’ objective scientific results reveal how climate change upsets the planet’s balance with extreme weather impacts. By illuminating the reality of climate change, Weather on Steroids aspires to take a proactive local role to engender collaboration between art and science for the benefit of cross-disciplinary and public education.

11 artists and 11 scientists collaborated, usually 1-1, to produce Weather on Steroids

Atmospheric Rivers

Was produced for the Exhibition from mixed media, recycled and repurposed materials, by Oscar Romo in consultation with CW3E’s Alexander Gershunov. It is one example of CW3E’s research inspiring art and contributing to Weather on Steroids. Each installation at the Exhibition is accompanied by 2 didactic panels: one from the artist and one from the scientist. Excerpts of the panels follow.

“…Made of repurposed materials, Romo’s piece symbolizes Nature’s power. Wind and moisture manifest kinetic/male and latent/feminine energy that together represent creation or creativity that we are learning to harness in ever-greater amounts. Rather than induce a negative perception of the subject, Romo, as a practitioner of “natural systems design”, argues that resilience can be accomplished through the understanding of nature and its remarkable ability to adapt and the human capacity to learn from the natural world. Repurposed objects in the installation communicate a concern over our excessive use of energy and massive generation of waste but also demonstrate an opportunity for us to become more efficient and respectful of our natural resources by reducing, recycling, reusing and recovering goods.” (from didactic panel by Oscar Romo)

“…The extreme rainfall that ARs can produce in California over a couple of days is similar to the rainfall amounts associated with land-falling hurricanes of the East and Gulf coasts. ARs provide much of the precipitation to California and they drive the volatile water resources in our State, but they do so in spurts, and so can cause floods, landslides and avalanches. In a warming climate, ARs are expected to carry more water vapor. ARs are the mechanisms that will produce many of the stronger precipitation extremes that are projected for our region by climate models. Extreme precipitation events are also expected to be warmer in the future and to produce a much larger proportion of rain compared to snow, further enhancing their potential to cause catastrophic floods and be less amenable to regulated water storage in reservoirs.” (from didactic panel by Alexander Gershunov)

On Romo’s Globe, continents are made from bicycle sprockets. Tropical moisture and atmospheric rivers (ARs) are represented by the bottoms of bottles collected from the Tijuana River. The Globe is directly exposed to landfalling ARs and is designed to rotate and rust as it catches wind and moisture.

Global warming, includes trends in climate extremes (e.g. drought) and extreme weather events (e.g. heat waves, floods, hurricanes, atmospheric rivers) that are devastating and locally felt. These changing extremes can register climate change acutely in our individual experiences. Yet the connection of regional weather extremes to global climate change is somewhat like the connection of an athlete’s performance in an individual sports event to her use of steroids. The steroids are only a partial and obscure cause of any individual outcome, yet their impact is evident in the statistics of the athlete’s performances over an entire season, especially when compared to pre-steroid seasons’ statistics.

(photos by Alexander Gershunov)