Spotlight on Weather and Climate

Understanding the local and global picture

When you see clouds moving across the sky, or feel the warmth of sunlight or a cool wind, you are experiencing the local weather, the immediate changing atmospheric dynamics and physics that impact our daily lives, ecosystems, and all life on planet Earth. Our daily weather can change rapidly, sometimes with extreme and hazardous results. Climate is the average of weather and it too is changing, but in ways that are now understood to be unprecedented due to the anthropogenic emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Understanding changes and improving the predictability of weather and climate from local to global scales requires observations over sufficiently long time periods, conceptual and numerical models, analysis of dynamics, pressure systems, cloud and radiation processes, and atmospheric trends, likelihoods, and probabilities.

Berkeley climate and weather researchers study atmospheric processes across a range of space and time scales. We work to better understand and quantify phenomena such as local fog occurrence, extreme heat, snowpack amount, and planetary radiation budgets and uncertainties. Many of us contribute scientific results to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, providing state, national, and international policymakers with the scientific basis needed for impact assessments and planning adaptation strategies.

Meteorology is a fascinating and diverse field, with growing opportunities. It helps to serve decision makers, and society in general, on how to prepare for future change. And regional weather and climate is where most socio-economic and ecologic impacts are realized—where the “rubber meets the road.”

On a recent trip to Antarctica, Norman Miller, UC Berkeley Adjunct Professor in the Geography Department and LBNL Staff Scientist in the Climate Science Department, taught fundamentals of meteorology and climate while sailing the Drakes Passage.

Meet Cal Scientists

What is the focus of these scientists’ research, and how does it relate to our everyday lives? Click on each picture to find out!

David Ackerly Associate Professor Plant Ecology and Evolution Dept. of Integrative Biology Inez Fung Professor, Atmospheric Science Co-Director, Berkeley Institute of the Environment Dept. of Earth and Planetary Science
John C. H. Chiang Associate Professor Dept. of Geography & Ctr. for Atmospheric Sciences Dennis Baldocchi Professor of Biometeorology Dept. of Environmental Science, Policy and Management Ecosystems Science Division
Norman Miller Adjunct Professor, Dept. of Geography Staff Scientist Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Earth Sciences Division William Collins Professor in Residence, Dept. of Earth and Planetary Science Sr. Scientist and Department Head, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Earth Sciences Division