Research Areas

The MPO program has a strong foundation in several areas in atmospheric and ocean sciences, including those presented below. Research is conducted using a variety of techniques from direct observation to theoretical and numerical modeling. Students come from a diverse range of educational backgrounds, including marine science, meteorology, physics, mathematics, and engineering.

Climate Variability and Change

Research covers a wide range of topics, both global and regional. We study climate variations on time scales from sub-seasonal to interannual to decadal, as well as ancient (paleo) climates and future climate changes. Efforts include analysis of satellite data, field observations and global data products, and a large focus on numerical climate modeling.

Large-Scale Ocean Circulation

Research covers a variety of topics, highlighting the ocean’s role in climate, including dynamics and variability of boundary currents, meridional overturning and tropical circulations, as well interaction between large-scale, mesoscale and submesoscale circulations. Particular strengths include experimental oceanography, numerical modeling with a variety of comprehensive and conceptual models, data analysis and assimilation, and theoretical studies.

Tropical Dynamics

The tropics have global impacts, from weather effects and hurricanes to El Niño and other climate variations. Research involves the myriad interactions of water vapor and clouds with air and wind and the underlying tropical oceans and landscapes.To see a sampling, use the forward arrow on this page.


RSMAS/MPO is ideally situated for the study of hurricanes through its location in Miami and its proximity to the NOAA Hurricane Research Division and National Hurricane Center. The research includes high-resolution coupled atmosphere-wave-ocean modeling, hurricane dynamics, and novel adaptive observing and data assimilation methods.

Regional and Coastal Oceanography

Studies focus on key processes in coastal and shelf areas, with special interest in regional seas around South Florida, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. Particular projects address events following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, air-sea interaction associated with hurricanes, shelf dynamics, mixing, submesoscale variability, biological-physical interactions in ecosystems, coral reef studies and the Everglades Restoration. The research involves high-resolution numerical modeling, experimental studies and data assimilation.

Clouds, Aerosol, Precipitation, and Radiation Interactions (CAPRI)

The cloud microphysical processes important to the global energy balance occur at spatial and time scales of seconds and meters. MPO studies such processes with aircraft and surface-based remote sensing (see this web site), in situ field measurements, and large-eddy simulations, and reconciles them with analyses done at the larger scales of satellites and regional climate models.

Satellite Remote Sensing

RSMAS hosts a real-time satellite reception and analysis facility. MPO is involved with retrieval algorithm development, validation and analysis of sea surface temperature, ocean color, sea surface topography and surface winds. These are analyzed in the context of climate research.