Dr. Allison Wing joined the EOAS faculty in January 2017. Before arriving at FSU, she completed a postdoctoral research fellowship at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and received her Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Wing is an atmospheric scientist who studies tropical convection, tropical cyclones, and climate.
One of her research foci is the organization of tropical convection; an example of a tropical cloud cluster is shown in the accompanying image. Dr. Wing is an expert on the phenomenon of self-aggregation, which is the tendency of tropical clouds to spontaneously clump together solely due to interactions between the clouds and the surrounding environment. Self-aggregation occurs in numerical model simulations of an imaginary patch of the tropical atmosphere, and one of Dr. Wing’s current areas of research involves determining exactly how the behavior seen in numerical models is borne out in the real world. Organized convection contributes significantly to tropical rainfall and cloudiness, and, when clouds cluster together more, they change the amount of cloudiness and humidity in the surrounding large-scale environment. Therefore, the behavior of tropical convection is essential to understanding tropical and global climate and climate sensitivity.
Dr. Wing also studies tropical cyclones, including the process of tropical cyclone formation and trends and variability in tropical cyclone intensity. There are some aspects of tropical cyclones (like what controls their movement and what sets an upper limit to their intensity) that are fairly well understood, but there are other aspects, with regards to climate change and our fundamental understanding of how they work, that are less clear. In particular, we don’t have a theory for what controls the number of hurricanes in a given climate. This is one of the biggest unanswered questions in tropical meteorology. Therefore, Dr. Wing is working on improving our fundamental understanding of the basic physics of tropical cyclone formation, through the use of theory, idealized numerical modeling, and analysis of observations and comprehensive climate models. One of her primary research activities is to perform high-resolution numerical simulations of tropical cyclones and analyze them to determine how different processes contribute to the formation of the tropical cyclone. An example of one of these simulations is shown in the movie below; the white shading indicates clouds and the colors indicate near-surface atmospheric humidity. The tropical cyclone forms about 25 seconds into the animation.
YouTube Video: https://www.youtube.com/embed/TlUMQKAGnoY
Dr. Wing’s EOAS home page, with links to her research website: http://www.eoas.fsu.edu/people/faculty/dr-allison-wing