Adam H. Sobel studies weather and climate, with a focus on extreme weather events and a particular interest in the tropics. Phenomena include tropical cyclones, intraseasonal variability, precipitation, severe convection, and climate change, as well as a substantial effort in recent years in climate risk and impacts. Sobel’s research spans basic and applied prediction and risk assessment, and uses observations, theory, and numerical simulations with models spanning a hierarchy in complexity. He is particularly interested in the interactions between turbulent deep convection and large-scale atmospheric dynamics, as these are key to the qualitative and quantitative understanding and prediction of many modes of atmospheric behavior, including extreme precipitation events. He has developed novel methods for diagnosing these interactions, connecting high-resolution explicit simulations of cloud systems to simple theoretical representations of large-scale dynamics in order to extract essential mechanisms and understand the connections between weather and climate. In another line of work, with colleagues in both academia and the insurance industry, Sobel has been developing hybrid statistical-dynamical models, combining mechanistic understanding with inference from observational data, to assess the risk of rare but extremely damaging extreme weather events, particularly tropical cyclones, but also tornadoes and hail, extreme precipitation, and others.
Sobel also has a strong interest in science communication. He has written many op-eds for the mainstream media, as well as a book, Storm Surge (Harper-Collins, 2014) about Hurricane Sandy. Currently he hosts a podcast, Deep Convection, featuring wide-ranging conversations with other climate scientists.
Sobel received a BA in physics and music from Wesleyan in 1989 and a PhD in meteorology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1998. He has received the Meisinger Award (2010) and Louis J. Battan Author’s Award (2014) from the American Meteorological Society, the Ascent Award from the Atmospheric Sciences Section of the American Geophysical Union (2014), and the Lamont-Doherty Award for Excellence in Mentoring (2010).