Paul J. Kushner, Professor
Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Physics Group
Department of Physics,University of Toronto

 

 

 

 

Atmospheric physics applies methods of modern and classical physics to problems in meteorology and climate. My research in atmospheric physics involves understanding the winds and circulation patterns of the atmosphere on continental to planetary scales. These patterns are determined by dynamics internal to the atmosphere, by climate forcings like anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and ozone depletion, and by interactions of the atmosphere with the surface. This kind of dynamics can be explored in a satisfying way using state of the art climate models, and understood in detail using dynamical theory and simplified versions of the climate models.

I am also working on dynamical aspects of snow cover, sea ice, and lake systems, and their relationship to climate. This work is more observationally based, but still leans heavily on models.

This area of applied physics is rewarding for its utility as well as its contribution to our basic scientific understanding of natural environmental systems, fluid mechanics, and classical physics. The following somewhat optimistic quotation from the popular mathematics literature expresses this idea:

"... all mathematical development has its psychological roots in more or less practical requirements. But once started under the pressure of necessary applications, it inevitably gains momentum in itself and transcends the confines of immediate utility. This trend from applied to theoretical science appears in anctient history as well as in many contributions to modern mathematics by engineers and physicists." -- Courant & Robbins, What Is Mathematics?

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