Atmospheric Physics

Atmospheric physics research at the University of Louisville includes modeling and data analysis of phenomena spanning mesoscale to planetary scale, the troposphere to the middle atmosphere, and includes planetary atmospheres. 

The EPIC atmospheric model, a general circulation model (GCM) designed for plantery applications, was developed here and funded by NASA and NSF. EPIC stands for "Explicit Planetary Isentropic Coordinate" and is the leading model for the atmospheres of the gas giants Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. The model can also be applied to terrestial class atmospheres including Venus, Earth, Mars, and Titan (a large moon of Saturn with a substantial atmosphere). Current topics of research include Jupiter's Great Red Spot, thunderstorms on Jupiter and Saturn, jet-stream stability, Venus and Titan spinup and superrotation, and the dynamics of vortices and clouds on Uranus and Neptune. (Dowling)

Active research in atmospheric turbulence also takes place in the department. The stable atmospheric boundary-layer exhibits significant complexity due to the interactions between several phenomena over multiple scales. Using the National Taiwan University-Purdue University Nonhydrostatic model with higher-order turbulence closure schemes, simulations are probing the role of internal gravity waves as an excitation mechanism for isolated layers of turbulent mixing. These gravity waves may be generated from shear layers inside or outside the boundary-layer or from topography. The goal is to shed light on the poorly-understood energetics surrounding the formation of turbulent structures in stable environments. (MacCall)


  • Timothy Dowling, Ph.D. (California Institute of Technology)
  • Jian Du-Caines, Ph.D. (University of New Brunswick)
  • Benjamin MacCall, Ph.D. (Purdue University)

Representative Publications

  • Buras R, Dowling T, Emde C, 2011, New secondary-scattering correction in DISORT with increased efficiency for forward scattering, J. Quant. Spectr. Ra., doi:10.1016/j.jqsrt.2011.03.019
  • Dowling TE, Bradley ME, Colón E, Kramer J, LeBeau RP, Lee GCH, Mattox TI, Morales-Juberías R, Palotai CsJ, Parimi VK, Showman AP, 2006, The EPIC atmospheric model with an isentropic/terrain-following hybrid vertical coordinate, Icarus 182, 259–273.
  • Du, J., W. E. Ward, J. Oberheide, T. Nakamura, and T. Tsuda (2007), Semidiurnal tides from the Extended Canadian Middle Atmosphere Model (CMAM) and comparisons with TIMED Doppler Interferometer (TIDI) and meteor radar observations, J. Atmos. Sol. Terr. Phys., 69, 2159– 2202, doi:10.1016/j.jastp.2007.07.014.
  • Read PL, Dowling TE, Schubert G, 2009, Rotation period of Saturn from its atmospheric planetary-wave configuration, Nature 460, 608–610, doi:10.1038/nature08194.
  • Zeng, Z., W. Randel, S. Sokolovskiy, C. Deser, Y.-H. Kuo, M. Hagan, J. Du, and W. Ward (2008), Detection of migrating diurnal tide in the tropical upper troposphere and lower stratosphere using the Challenging Minisatellite Payload radio occultation data, J. Geophys. Res., 113, D03102, doi:10.1029/2007JD008725.