Climate Sensitivity

Narrowing the uncertainty in how Earth's climate will change in the future is one of the most pressing problems in all of science. I try to contribute to these efforts by developing emergent constraints on Earth's climate sensitivity (i.e., links between something we can observe in today's climate and models' climate sensitivity), and by studying the climate system holistically in order to develop a more nuanced picture of how Earth's climate will evolve.


  1. Lutsko, N. J. and Popp, M. (2019) Probing the Sources of Uncertainty in Transient Warming on Different Time‐Scales. Geophysical Research Letters, 46: 11367 – 11377. Link
  2. Lutsko, N. J. (2018) The Relationship Between Cloud Radiative Effect and Surface Temperature Variability at ENSO Frequencies in CMIP5 Models. Geophysical Research Letters, 45: 10599 – 10608. Link
  3. 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

Large-Scale Atmospheric Dynamics

My research on atmospheric dynamics combines theory, numerical simulations and observational analyses to try to improve our understanding of how the atmosphere works. Recently I have been interested in trying to extend zonal-mean theories to regional climates, which I believe is of more relevance for making accurate climate projections.


  1. Lutsko, N. J., Baldwin, J. W., and Cronin, T. W. (2019) The Impact of Large-Scale Orography on Northern Hemisphere Winter Synoptic Temperature Variability. Journal of Climate, 32(18): 5799 – 5814. Link
  2. Lutsko, N. J., Marshall, J., and Green, B. (2019) Modulation of Monsoon Circulations by Cross-Equatorial Ocean Heat Transport. Journal of Climate, 32(13): 3471 – 3485. Link
  3. Lutsko, N. J. and Popp, M. (2018) The Influence of Meridional Gradients in Insolation and LongWave Optical Depth on the Climate of a Gray Radiation GCM. Journal of Climate, 31(10): 7803 – 7822. Link
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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

Tropical Dynamics

Clouds and convection are the largest source of uncertainty in climate projections. To help reduce this uncertainty, I am interested in developing new modeling frameworks for studying tropical dynamics, particularly the interactions between clouds and large-scale circulations. I also perform detailed investigations of key physical processes responible for this uncertainty, with the goal of producing results that can be directly applied in climate models.


  1. Lutsko, N. J. and Cronin, T. W. (2018) Increase in Precipitation Efficiency with Surface Warming in Radiative-Convective Equilibrium. Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems, 10: 2992 – 3010. Link.
  2. Popp, M. and Lutsko, N. J. (2017) Quantifying the zonal-mean structure of tropical precipitation. Geophysical Research Letters, 44(18): 9470 – 9478 2017GL075235. Link

Solar Geoengineering

Although I am opposed to the idea of using solar geoengineering to counteract the effects of increased CO2 concentrations, I do think it is worth studying. In particular, much of the geoengineering literature has focused on using comprehensive climate models, which can provide detailed simulations of potential geoengineering scenarios, at the expense of understanding. So I am interested in using established tools from climate science, like energy balance models and idealized atmospheric models, to study the potential impacts of solar geoengineering at a more basic level.


  1. Lutsko, N. J., Seeley, J. T. and Keith, D. W. (2020) Estimating Impacts and Trade‐offs in Solar Geoengineering Scenarios With a Moist Energy Balance Model. Geophysical Research Letters, 47, e2020GL087290. Link