Professor Steven Sherwood

Professor Steven Sherwood

Physical Meteorology and Atmospheric Climate Dynamics

I study how the various processes in the atmosphere conspire to establish climate, how these processes might be expected to control the way climate changes, and how the atmosphere will ultimately interact with the oceans and other components of Earth. Clouds and water vapour in particular remain poorly understood in many respects, but are very important not only in bringing rain locally, but also to global climate. Tropospheric convection (disturbed weather) is a key process by which the atmosphere transports water and energy and in the process creates clouds -- but is a turbulent phenomenon for which we have no basic theory and which observations cannot yet fully characterise.

I lead a research group that applies basic physics and mathematics to complex problems by a combination of simple theoretical ideas and hypotheses and directed analyses of observations. Depending on requirements we use simple or advanced statistical techniques, bridging the gaps between these (where needed) by using state-of-the-art climate models as research tools. One practical goal of the work is to figure out how these models might be improved, as they are ultimately necessary for regional predictions of weather and climate. A more academic goal is just to unlock the secrets of our atmosphere.

Please contact me if you are interested in pursuing honours, Masters or Ph.D. level research as there are a number of interesting projects to work on. I (and many others at the CCRC) are especially looking for students with backgrounds in quantitative fields such as physics, mathematics or atmospheric science.

Research Group

Dr. Daniel Hernandez-Deckers (Postdoctoral RA)

David Fuchs (Ph.D.)

Nidhi Nishant (Ph.D.)

Cameron Cairns (Ph.D.)

Maxime Colin (Ph.D.)

Recent Graduates

Penny Maher (Ph.D.)

James Goldie (Hrs.)

STREPSIADES: But why are they all staring at the ground?
STUDENT: They're engaged in geological research.
...
SOKRATES: And you actually mean to say that it's never occurred to you that the Clouds of heaven were goddesses?
STREPSIADES: By Zeus, it's news to me. I always used to think they were just fog and drizzle and mist.
SOKRATES: Clearly then you must also be ignorant of the fact that the Clouds are also patrons of a varied group of gentlemen, comprising: chiropractors, prophets, longhairs, quacks, fops, charlatans, fairies, dithyrambic poets, scientists, dandies, astrologers, and other men of leisure. And because all alike, without exception, walk with their heads among the clouds and base their inspiration on the murky Muse, the Clouds support them and feed them.
--Aristophanes,
The Clouds, 423 B.C.