Participating Faculty: Chang, Colle, French, Kim, Liu, Zhang

At SoMAS our faculty and students study a variety of weather events, ranging from everyday weather to extreme events. SoMAS researchers use a range of models and observations to understand and predict extratropical cyclones, tornadoes and hurricanes, with a particular interest to events unique to where we call home, the Northeast United States and Long Island.

Weather Forecasting

The ability to forecast weather conditions 3-7 days into the future is crucial to society and to help you decide whether to take your umbrella with you when you walk to class! To aid in predicting weather scientists and weather forecasters use various numerical forecast models and model initialization techniques. Because not atmosphere model is perfect, SoMAS faculty and students work to improve our forecasting models through the employment of ensemble forecasting which makes use of different models to make more informed predictions.  Additionally, researchers employ ensemble data assimilation techniques to supply forecasting models with the best possible initial conditions possible to determine all possible forecasts.  SoMAS researchers use these methods to forecast a range of weather events from hurricanes in the summer to snowstorms in the winter.

Extratropical Cyclones

Also referred to as midlatitude cyclones, extratropical cyclones are responsible for a lot of our everyday weather. In the summer they produce a variety of weather, including typical cloudy days, mild rain events and more intense thunderstorms.  In the winter, extratropical cyclones are responsible for blizzards, ice storms and lake effect snow events. At SoMAS, our faculty actively research cyclone in coastal environments, including those East Coast and West Atlantic, as these storms can produce damaging storm surges along New England and Long Island during the winter months. Stony Brook researchers also investigate how extratropical cyclone tracks and intensity may change over time to gauge how our general weather may change.


Hurricanes, also called tropical cyclones and typhoons, are intense atmospheric vortices that form over the warm tropical oceans. These storms are some of the most devastating weather phenomena on Earth, as they can produce extreme winds, large amounts of rain and destructive storm surges. At Stony Brook University, our faculty work to further out understanding of hurricanes and improve our ability to predict potential land falling hurricanes, including those that impact Long Island and the New York area (e.g., Superstorm Sandy). Furthermore, additional research focuses on understanding how hurricanes will change in the coming decades and what that means for coastal communities.       

Supercell and tornado dynamics

Powerful, rotating, long-lived convective storms known as supercells are responsible for many of the damaging hail and high wind events that impact the U.S. In addition, these storms are responsible for spawning a large majority of violent tornadoes that causes a disproportionate amount of death and property damage. A major research objective in this area is to better understand the dynamics of supercells, and in particular, why some supercells produce tornadoes and many others do not. Additional work is focused on tornadoes: how they form and dissipate, their physical characteristics, and the complex processes they undergo. These scientific efforts use high-resolution observational data and/or employ numerical models to address these scientific problems. Our faculty use observational data from advanced remote sensing instrumentation, including phased-array radars, dual-polarization radars, and high-resolution satellites to (i) improve our understanding of supercell kinematic, dynamic, and microphysical evolution as it relates to tornado production, (ii) gain insight into regional supercell storm life cycles (iii) optimize short-term forecasts and nowcasts of storm evolution, and (iv) observe and attempt to explain tornado features and short-time-scale tornado processes.