Richard Rotunno is a Senior Scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and former Director of the Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology Laboratory at NCAR. He received a B. E. in Engineering Science (1971) and an M. S. in Mechanics (1972) at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and a Ph. D. in Geophysical Fluid Dynamics from Princeton University (1976). He was a postdoctoral fellow in NCAR’s Advanced Study Program (1976-77) and at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (1978-1979) before joining NCAR in 1980. He is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society (AMS). He is a two-time recipient of the AMS Banner I. Miller Award, the Jule G. Charney Award (2004) and the Carl-Gustaf Rossby Research Medal (2017). In 2018 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the AMS Severe Local Storms Committee.

Research Interests

Through a combination of theory and numerical modeling, Dr. Rotunno's research is directed at the understanding needed to make progress in the forecasting of mesoscale weather phenomena. He has particularly focussed on the most severe weather systems such as tornadoes (their formation and wind structure), supercell thunderstorms (their rotation and propagation) and the ability of some severe thunderstorms to rejuvenate, forming lines of thunderstorms (squall lines). Mesoscale meteorology is concerned with human-scale air motion, temperature and precipitation, from local wind gusts to the daily weather: Dr. Rotunno has done research to deepen the understanding of local circulations such as mountain-valley winds, mountain lee vortices and the effects of orography on the location and intensity of precipitation; on coastal meteorology, including the land-sea breeze and coastally trapped disturbances (bringing sudden onsets of hazardous coastal fog) and on hurricanes (their wind structure, thermodynamics and intensity). Motivated by these weather problems, he has done research on some of their fundamental fluid-dynamical components including the dynamics of density currents, vortex stability, convection and atmospheric predictability.

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Primary Section

Section 16: Geophysics