Climate Sensitivity

I have investigated the connection between comprehensive climate models' internal variability and their sensitivity, which could provide a new "emergent constraint" on Earth's sensitivity. A point of emphasis in this work is studying models' behavior on different frequencies, which is relevant for future climate changes as well as for understanding past variations of Earth's climate.


  1. Lutsko, N. J. and Takahashi, K. (2018) What Can the Internal Variability of CMIP5 Models Tell Us About Their Climate Sensitivity? Journal of Climate, 31(13): 5051 – 5069. Link

Tropical Dynamics

Many of the most pressing questions in climate science concern the behavior of the tropics. Max Popp and I proposed a new set of indicators for tropical precipitation, with the aim of helping clarify the "double-ITCZ" problem in climate models. I am currently working with Tim Cronin to better understand the behavior of tropical low clouds in warmer climates, as well as to constrain some of the processes which determine tropical precipitation rates.


  1. Popp, M. and Lutsko, N. J. (2017) Quantifying the zonal-mean structure of tropical precipitation. Geophysical Research Letters, 44(18): 9470 – 9478 2017GL075235. Link

Large-Scale Atmospheric Dynamics

Outside of the tropics, the dynamics of the troposphere can be separated into the problem of the zonally-symmetric circulation and the problem of the zonally-asymmetric circulation. I have worked on both problems using a variety of idealized models, like the Phillips 2-layer quasi-geostrophic model and the GFDL dry dynamical core; with a particular focus being connecting the models' internal variability to their linear responses. Where possible I have compared my results with observational data.


  1. Lutsko, N. J. and Popp, M. (2018) The Influence of Meridional Gradients in Insolation and Long-Wave Optical Depth on the Climate of a Gray Radiation GCM. Journal of Climate, in press. Link
  2. Lutsko, N. J. (2018) The Response of a Dry Atmosphere to ENSO-like Heating: Superrotation and the Breakdown of Linear Theory. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 75(1): 3 – 20. Link
  3. Lutsko, N. J., Held, I. M., Zurita-Gotor, P. and O'Rourke, A. K. (2017). Lower Tropospheric Eddy Momentum Fluxes in Idealized Models and Reanalysis Data. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 74(11): 3787 – 3797. Link
  4. 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
  5. 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