The dynamics of the troposphere can be separated (at least outside the tropics) into the problem of understanding the zonally-symmetric circulation and the problem of understanding the zonally-asymmetric circulation. Since coming to Princeton I have worked on both problems, using idealized models like the Phillips 2-layer QG model and the GFDL dry dynamical core, with the unifying theme being connecting the low-frequency variability of these systems to their linear responses.

I am also interested in climate science more generally, including things like the problem of climate sensitivity, climate model development and evaluation, ocean heat uptake and climate variations on all time-scales. In a recent project I have tried to relate the internal variability of CMIP5 models to their sensitivity.

What I'm working on

  1. Lutsko, N. J., Held, I. M., Zurita-Gotor, P., and O'Rourke, A. K. Lower Tropospheric Eddy Momentum Fluxes in Idealized Models and Reanalysis Data.
  2. Lutsko, N. J., Held, I. M., and Takahashi, K. What can the internal variability of CMIP5 models tell us about their sensitivity?
  3. Lutsko, N. J. The Response of a Dry Atmosphere to ENSO-like Heating: Superrotation and the Breakdown of Linear Theory.


  1. Lutsko, N. J., Held, I. M., and Zurita-Gotor, P. (2015). Applying the Fluctuation–Dissipation Theorem to a Two-Layer Model of Quasi-Geostrophic Turbulence. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 72(8):3161 – 3177. Link
  2. Lutsko, N. J. and Held, I. M. (2016). The Response of an Idealized Atmosphere to Orographic Forcing: Zonal vs Meridional Propagation.Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 73(9):3701 – 3718. Link