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Associated and Affiliated Faculty mentor graduate students, teach courses, and serve on graduate committees

Core Faculty

Uma Bhatt, Associate Professor & Department Chair, Climate Variability & Change

e-mail:  , Office: IARC 307

I use long-term climate observations and climate models to investigate processes of climate variability and change. Most of my current projects are multi-disciplinary and investigate the role of climate in recent changes in arctic tundra vegetation and Alaska glaciers. I regularly teach 'Atmospheric Dynamics I' and 'Climate and Climate Change'. I also lead a 1-credit seminar class called 'Climate Journal Club', where students, postdocs and faculty discuss timely climate topics over coffee and sweets on Friday afternoons.

professional web page:

Richard Collins, Professor, Laser remote sensing of atmospheres

e-mail:, Office: IARC 317

My primary interest is the meteorology of the middle and upper atmosphere and the remote sensing of this region. Working with students at the Lidar Research Lab at Poker Flat Research Range, I develop and operate laser radar (lidar) systems to probe the atmosphere yielding measurements of temperature, density and concentration of species. We also develop the analysis tools for studying these measurements and associated data sets. These studies include the following topics; the aeronomy of the summer polar atmosphere and noctilucent clouds, the thermal structure of the stratosphere and mesosphere, variability and waves in the middle atmosphere, and the impact of the aurora on the upper atmosphere. I have also participated in studies of forest fires, volcanic aerosols, and fish. I teach "Weather and Climate of Alaska" (ATM101) and "Atmospheric Radiation" (ATM613), as well as courses on the meteorology of the middle atmosphere and environmental measurement systems.

professional web page:

Javier Fochesatto, Associate Professor , Boundary Layer Meterorology

e-mail:, Office: IARC 315

My research focuses in the field of Boundary Layer (BL) Meteorology and surface-BL dynamic/radiative feedbacks including gases, aerosols and low level tropospheric clouds. Current research projects include studies of micrometeorological influences of small scale processes (e.g., drainage flows) on the Arctic Stable-BL, dynamic exchanges (e.g., downward mixing) on the Arctic Summer-BL during Boreal forest fires, evapotranspiration in Arctic wet-lands (e.g. Tundra and Taiga), long-range aerosol transport to the Arctic (e.g., ARCTAS-2008), aerosol-cloud interaction in the Marine BL (e.g., VOCALS-RExc) and aerosol spectroscopy by Laser Raman spectroscopy, IR-microscopy and SEM techniques. An important component of my research is devoted to field experiments in collaboration with Arctic researchers and abroad and in developing new laser remote sensing instruments (e.g., Full Stokes Polarimetric Lidar) and aerosol spectroscopy (e.g., Polarization Sensitive Raman Spectroscopy).

professional web page:

Nicole Mölders, Professor, Mesoscale and land-surface modeling

E-mail:, Office: IARC 309

Since 1988, I have been involved in numerical modeling of the physics and chemistry of the atmosphere. I have used mesoscale models to investigate human and natural (e.g. fire, volcanic eruptions, anthropogenic emissions, land-use changes) impacts on weather, air quality and/or climate. In close cooperation with hydrologists and geologists I coupled a hydrologic and meteorological model and developed an integrative hydrometeorological model. I worked with computer scientists on optimizing chemistry transport models for parallel computers. I led several projects to study dry deposition of reactive atmospheric trace gases, water availability under changed climate conditions, the impact of land-use changes on evapotranspiration, cloud and precipitation formation, and impacts of various emission sources on air quality and weather. Since 1995, in Germany and the United States, I have taught cloud physics, satellite meteorology, physical hydrometeorology, paleoclimatology, parameterization of hydrometerological processes, numerical modeling and parameterization methods, mesoscale dynamics, introduction to computational meteorology and introduction to atmospheric sciences.

professional web page:

Igor Polyakov, Professor, Climate and Global Change of the Arctic Ocean

e-mail: igor@, office: IARC 408.

The primary focus of my recent research is climate change and variability in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions. My high-latitude climate studies focus on polar amplification of global warming, long-term variability of the Arctic atmosphere, ice, and ocean, their interconnections, and linkages with the lower latitude processes. Previously my work has addressed problems of high-latitude tides, their interactions with ice, and contribution of tides to general oceanic circulation and structure of large-scale oceanic fields. I also lead a big observational program called NABOS (Nansen and Amundsen Basins Observational System) which provides an assessment of circulation, water mass transformations, and key mechanisms of variability in the Arctic Ocean on a broad range of time scales. NABOS observations were imperative for detecting and tracking exceptionally strong recent warming of the Arctic Ocean. These observations suggest that the Arctic Ocean is in transition towards a new, warmer state.

professional web page:

Xiangdong Zhang, Professor, Climate and Global Change

e-mail:, Office: IARC 406A6

Dr. Xiangdong Zhang is interested in climate variability and global warming forced climate changes. Specifically, his recent research projects have focused on Arctic-global climate interactions and rapid climate change, tropical and North Pacific decadal variability, global warming forced extreme climate and weather events, Arctic and global freshwater and energy budgets and pathways, storm track dynamics and its interaction with large-scale circulations, and treatment/parameterization of physics in climate models. He has collaborated with numerous national and international colleagues in his research. Recent major accomplishments include the detection of a spatial shift of atmospheric circulation and its driving role in recent rapid Arctic climate change, identification of poleward shift of storm tracks and intensification of storm activity, evaluation of future Arctic sea ice changes by the IPCC AR4 models, and analysis of Arctic sea ice mass balance, heat and freshwater budgets and pathways.

professional web page:


Associated and Affiliated Faculty

Vladimir A. Alexeev, Ph. D., Associated Faculty

Research Associate Professor
Climate and Global Change, Climate Feedbacks, (Moscow Institute for Physics and Technology)
e-mail: Office: IARC 408H.

My area of expertise is climate dynamics with emphasis on feedbacks affecting polar amplification (PA) of global warming. Atmospheric heat transport feedbacks contributing to PA have been studied using a variety of climate system models, from simple conceptual to full 3D GCMs. These feedbacks are unrelated to the so-called "local" polar amplification mechanisms associated with surface albedo and clouds. They are linked to remote signal propagating to the Arctic atmosphere from the lower latitudes as the climate warms.

Other research activities include changes in permafrost and hydrologic cycle in the warming world and Atlantic water in the Arctic Ocean. I have worked with several GCMs and have done some work on developing numerical methods, including various finite-difference techniques and semi-Lanrangian schemes for atmospheric models. I have been involved in IARC education/outreach activities since 2003 (mostly organization of summer schools).

David Atkinson, Ph.D., Affiliated Faculty

Assistant Professor U Victoria
Synoptic Meteorology, e-mail:

My primary focus concerns the "environmental forcing" of coastal zones in arctic regions. This means how do storm winds and waves affect coastal zones, with special attention given to the unique complicating conditions introduced by the presence of sea-ice and frozen ground. This encompasses investigating high-latitute storm and storm track dynamics, the response of the ocean surface to winds, statistical characterization of extreme events, and links to societal impacts via interdisciplinary partnerships. I teach "Synoptic Analysis and Forecasting" (ATM644) and am developing a statistical analysis course, "Large Data Sets Analysis".

Cathy Cahill, Ph. D., Associated Faculty

Associate Professor of Chemistry,

Atmospheric chemistry, Cloud-aerosol interactions, (University of Nevada, Reno)

e-mail:, NSF 182.

Dr. Cahill’s research focuses on atmospheric aerosols and their impacts on visibility, global climate, and human health. Her research includes laboratory experiments, modeling, and field studies of atmospheric aerosols and their properties. She is currently investigating the size and composition of particulate matter entering the Arctic from Asia and other continents. In addition, she is developing research programs for determining the effects of particulate matter, especially ultra-fine aerosols, on human health and quantifying the chemical composition and optical properties of arctic aerosols.


George Grell, Ph.D., Affiliated Faculty

NOAA, Microscale/Mesoscale Meteorology


Coming Soon

Ruth S. Lieberman, Ph.D., Affiliated Faculty

Senior Research Scientist, GATS-Inc.
(University of Washington)
Email: r.s.lieberman ‘at’

Dr. Lieberman received her PhD. in Atmospheric Science in 1992 from the University of Washington. She specializes in the analysis of satellite data, and in furthering our understanding of middle atmosphere dynamics. Dr. Lieberman was a member of the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) mission, and is a Thermosphere Ionosphere Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics (TIMED) mission guest investigator. She also collaborates with ground-based middle atmosphere observatories, including the Lidar Research Laboratory at Poker Flat Research Range. Dr. Lieberman has published a number of papers on the dynamics of tides, planetary-scale waves, and wave-mean flow interaction diagnosed with satellite data.

James Partain, Affiliated Faculty

NOAA, Anchorage, Alaska


James Partain is the Regional Climate Service Director for the Alaska Region, based in Anchorage, Alaska.  For the past 26 years, James has worked to improve the provision of environmental information to NOAA customers and stakeholders.  For example, as the Chief of the National Weather Service’s (NWS) Alaska Region Environmental and Scientific Services Division, James oversaw university research on a variety of climate topics, ranging from sea ice retreat to storm effects and coastal erosion.  As a Science Fellow to the NOAA Cooperative Institute for Arctic Research, James fostered collaboration between NOAA, academia and other researchers in Alaska and the Arctic.  In addition, he was an active member of the steering committee for the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy.  As the former Regional Scientist for the NWS Pacific Region, James also managed the Pacific Region’s climate services program.  His paper on the application of a National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) model to mesoscale forecasting was published in the Weather and Forecasting Journal of the American Meteorological Society, of which he is a member.  James’ career in the NWS includes meteorologist/forecaster positions in Reno, NV, Great Falls, MT, Cleveland, OH, and as the Science and Operations Officer for the NOAA/NCEP Ocean Prediction Center.  James holds a B.S. in Atmospheric Sciences from the University of Washington.

Bill Simpson, Ph.D., Associated Faculty

Professor, Atmospheric chemistry, Atmospheric Oxidation Chemistry in the Arctic (Stanford University)
e-mail:, Office: NSF 186

We are an active research program involving application of spectroscopy to study environmental / atmospheric chemistry. Our group is a great place to learn about both technical aspects of experimental chemistry and scientific aspects of air and Arctic chemistry research. We have developed systems using state-of-the-art laser spectroscopy (cavity ring-down spectroscopy, CRDS) to probe the chemistry of nitrogen radicals in the Arctic. This chemistry is important to find the fate of nitrogen pollution (NOx pollution) at high latitudes. We also use passive spectroscopy (differential optical absorption spectroscopy, DOAS) to study the chemistry of reactive halogen radicals in the Arctic. This chemistry is related to mercury deposition to the Arctic and is expected to change significantly as the Arctic sea ice changes with climate change. Besides our focus on field work we also have a number of other laboratory projects available to students. We have a great deal of experience building instruments, making them work, and making discoveries with them. I believe that I would be a good teacher of these skills as well as being an good advisor to both graduate and undergraduate students.

John Walsh Ph.D., Associated Faculty

UAF Presidents Professor - Global Change

Climate and Global Change(Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

e-mail:, Off. IARC 405.

My research addresses weather and climate, with an emphasis on the Arctic. I am especially interested the interplay between climate change and weather, for example, changes in weather patterns and extreme events as climate changes. Among my current projects is a study of extreme events in the Arctic, and a reanalysis project in which past states of the Arctic are reconstructed by data assimilation. My interests are expanding to include the impacts of changes in climate and associated extreme events. I have been an author of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment and the IPCC's Fourth Assessment report, and I am a co-author of an undergraduate textbook entitled Severe and Hazardous Weather.

Tom Weingartner, Ph.D., Associated Faculty

Physical Oceanography of the Arctic

School of Fisheries, U. Alaska Fairbanks

Coming Soon



Emeritus Teaching Faculty

Sue Ann Bowling

Climatology, climate history
Global change


Sue Ann's blog can be found at:

We are sad to report that Sue Ann passed away after a long illness in fall 2014. A memorial is planned for spring of 2015.


Kenneth Sassen, Professor, Remote sensing of clouds and aerosols

e-mail:, Office: IARC 301

Ken Sassen has been a researcher in the polarization lidar field since the early days of the development of lasers suitable for atmospheric research. Along the way he helped develop the multiple remote sensor method that combines lidar, millimeter-wave radar, and passive radiometers to more fully study clouds and aerosols.  This approach is the basis for the A-train satellite concept, where several satellites (including lidar and radar) are currently flown in formation.  He has performed extensive laboratory and field work in the Arctic, developed several instruments, and maintains at the Geophysical Institute the Arctic Facility for Atmospheric Remote Sensing (AFARS), which contains three polarizaton lidars, a 95 GHz Doppler radar, and a suite of radiometers. Regular AFARS observations are being applied to satellite validation studies, and basic research into cirrus, mixed-phase clouds, and cloud/aerosol interactions. He also has interests in explaining atmospheric optics, and uses computer cloud model simulations to better understand the atmospheric landscape.

Glenn Shaw

Cloud and aerosol physics, Atmospheric chemistry


I have interest in how clouds are inter-related to climate and how climate might be modulated by variations in cloud. My early work on Arctic Haze and atmospheric aerosols in the Antarctic led to discovery that the nuclei on which cloud droplets grow are often produced by biological sources in the oceans (phytoplankton and zoo plankton). This cloud-climate linkage is the main focus of my research. I’m also interested in long distance transport and chemical alteration of aerosols, especially for transport of smoke, dust and anthropogenic pollution across the Pacific Ocean.


Norbert Untersteiner

Professor-Chapman Chair, Emeritus, University of Alaska

Dr. Untersteiner served as the Chapman Chair at UAF from 1999-2004.

Norbert passed away on March 14, 2012 and he will be sorely missed. He has left a tremendous and lasting impact on the UAF community, particularly those in the sea-ice and climate research areas. We feel very fortunate that he was part our our group.


Gunter Weller

Climate and Global change

Coming Soon


Gerd Wendler



Office: IARC 311

Gerd Wendler received his Ph.D. in atmospheric science in 1964 from the Leopold Franzens University, Innsbruck, Austria. After working for the Austrian Academy of Sciences for a couple of years, he joint the Geophysical Institute in 1966. His field of interest is climatology and glacio-meteorology with special emphasis on the polar regions, both the Arctic and Antarctica, on which topics he published widely. He is now Professor Emeritus of Geophysics, but still directs the Alaska Climate Research Center, which is part of the Geophysical Institute. Further, he is Associate Editor of the international journal ANTARCTIC SCIENCE.