Dr. Jing Zhang

Department of Physics and Energy & Environmental Studies; NOAA-ISET Center
North Carolina Agriculture and Technical State University, Greensboro, North Carolina
Phone: (336) 285-2337; E-mail: jingnc@gmail.com

I am offering these courses for both graduate and undergraduate students:

Synoptic Meteorology; Advanced Synoptic Weather Analysis and Forecast

These are lecture/laboratory courses with an objective to understand behavior of the atmosphere through the method of weather analysis by using observations and weather theory. First the basic tools of and its application for weather analysis will be introduced. Then the weather theory will be studied to gain fundamental concepts and physics of significant atmospheric phenomena. Through these studies, the students will work toward developing a sophisticated understanding of the atmosphere behavior while gaining valuable experience issuing various weather systems.

Mesoscale Meteorology; Advanced Mesoscale Weather Analysis

These courses are designed for the students to understand various mesoscale weather phenomena through the method of physical analysis techniques. The mesoscale phenomena covered in these courses include hurricanes, severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, mountain waves, land/sea breezes, etc. Through these studies, the students will gain a better understanding of the physical processes in various mesoscale weather systems.

Research group:

Jing Zhang, Ph.D.
Fuhong Liu, graduate student
Steve Stegall, graduate student

Current projects:
Chukchi/Beaufort Seas Mesoscale Meteorology Modeling Study (DoI/MMS)
Oil field development in the Chukchi/Beaufort seas requires an improved understanding of spatial and temporal structures of surface wind field, which is crucially important for driving ocean currents and dispersion of potential oil spills. In particular, extreme winds can occur in association with intense mesoscale weather systems, causing a sudden change of wind direction and wind speed, coastal flooding and erosion, wave surges, and infrastructure breakdowns. Thus, a project has been established to investigate the climatology and mesoscale structures of surface wind field throughout the Chukchi/Beaufort seas and Alaskan North Slope. The major components of this study include: 1) data collection, including potential field work, for the offshore open water areas in particular, which will be used for the validation of model performance and improvement of the simulation of Beaufort Sea mesoscale meteorological conditions; 2) modeling studies for the optimization of the model physics and configuration, including the coupling of a sea ice model, in order to establish a well-tuned Beaufort Sea mesoscale model; 3) a 5-year experimental simulation for validating the modeling results and for use in driving a test simulation with the oil spill or wave model; 4) a 30-year (1978–2008) production simulation, along with an uncertainty assessment of the modeled surface wind fields; and 5) an analysis of the climatology, interannual variability, and long-term change in the features of the modeled Beaufort Sea surface winds.

Impact of Storm Activity on Recent Changes in Arctic Sea Ice Mass Balance (NSF)
This project is to investigate impacts of changes in storm track dynamics on the recent rapid reduction in Arctic sea ice extent and volume. The increase of storm intensity and frequency result in enhanced high-frequency synoptic-scale variations and feedbacks in the Arctic climate system, and may make an integrative contribution to the basin-wide sea ice reduction. The project studies build upon previous work, and combine model simulations with satellite products and in situ observations to integrate and delineate physical causes of sea-ice mass balance changes in the context of storm-induced air-ice-sea interactions. This research will bridge synoptic-scale weather activities and large-scale climate variability and changes. The expected outcome includes assembled schematics linking storm-induced synoptic-scale variation with recently observed rapid loss of Arctic sea ice mass. Changes in sea ice concentration/extent, thickness/volume, and heat budget terms at the air-ice-sea interface that follow the motion of identified storms will be compiled. The project also has important broader impacts across the scientific community and in the general public. A Ph.D. graduate student will be trained to join the next generation of climate researchers. The project outcome will be integrated into graduate, undergraduate, and K-12 student lectures, and aid policymakers to make wiser and more economical decisions.

Present and Future Contribution of Glacial Runoff to Freshwater Discharge (NSF)
Freshwater influx to the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) is strongly influenced by glacier runoff as roughly one fifth of its drainage basin is covered by glacier ice. During the last decades GOA glaciers have generally thinned and retreated and hence precipitation stored in the glaciers as snow and ice has been released augmenting streamflow and freshwater influx to the GOA, Alaska. Glaciers draining to the GOA are highly sensitive to climate warming and mass loss rates are expected to increase. It is hypothesized that runoff from glaciers will initially increase by more than 50% as wastage accelerates, but then will reach a turning point upon which runoff will decrease as the glaciers shrink and partly disappear. Hence, the changes in the hydrological cycles due to glacier wastage are substantially larger than expected changes in any other component of the water budget in this region. The research will quantify these changes in runoff. A glacier runoff model is used to simulate the current magnitude and timing of runoff from glaciers that drain to the Gulf of Alaska and project how glacial runoff along the Gulf of Alaska will change by 2100 in response to future climate scenarios in Alaska downscaled by a high resolution regional climate model. Further, potential changes to the biogeochemical fluxes into freshwater and marine ecosystems associated with the projected changes in glacier runoff are assessed. Results provide regional scale estimates of glacier runoff changes and associated impacts on biogeochemical fluxes for the GOA. A modeling strategy is developed that can be used to evaluate glacier runoff changes and hydrologic tipping points in other heavily glacierized regions. Moreover, the downscaled climate scenarios we develop will be available for other impact studies. Visualization products of the results are made available to the Mendenhall Glacier visitor center, which is visited by approximately 350,000 people each year.

Pending projects:

Extreme Storm Climatology and Future Projections over Eastern US (NOAA)
Midlatitude storms are the fundamental elements constituting daily weather patterns and forming large-scale climate regimes in middle and high latitudes, especially during the cold season. Extreme storm events are becoming more frequent and more intensified over the eastern US, and the associated extreme events, such as strong winds and heavy snowfall disrupt human life significantly. Thus a pressing need exists to better understand the behaviors of these extreme weather systems. In this study we propose to analyze the storm climatology and conduct high-resolution storm modeling to improve our understanding and predictability of storm activities that are more frequently occurring over the eastern US.

Validation of WRF Boundary Layer Simulation for Air Dispersion Modeling (ConocoPhillips/Shell/EPA)
For the purpose of air dispersion modeling, the performance of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model on the boundary layer simulation is a major concern. In this study, we will thoroughly evaluate the WRF performance with extensively collected in-situ measured and satellite retrieved profiles.
Motivated students are strongly encouraged to contact me for a RA opportunity.


1993 – 1996 Ph.D.  Atmospheric Sciences, Peking University, Beijing
* Dissertation: “Land Surface Processes and Regional Climate Modeling”
1990 – 1993 M.S. Atmospheric Sciences, Nanjing University, Nanjing
* Dissertation: “Diagnostic and Modeling Study of Extreme Precipitation Event in Jianghui China”
1985 – 1989 B.S. Atmospheric Sciences, Nanjing University, Nanjing
* Dissertation: “Mountain Precipitation Study with Station Observations”


2010-Current Associate Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, Department of Physics and Energy & Environmental Studies; NOAA-ISET Center, North Carolina Agriculture and Technical State University, Greensboro, NC
2008-2010:  Research Assistant Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, Arctic Region Supercomputing Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK 
2000-2008: Research Associate, Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK
1999-2000:  Research Associate, Department of Marine, Earth, Atmospheric Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC
1997-1999:  Visiting Scientist, Institute of Ocean Sciences, Sidney, BC
1996-1997:  Research Scientist, National Climate Center, Beijing


1. Mesoscale Modeling and its Application
* Extreme weather event:  conducted simulation and analysis using the mesoscale models MM4, MM5 and WRF for heave rain, strong cyclone, and extreme wind events.
* High latitude sea breeze study:  investigated the sea breeze phenomenon along the northern Alaska coast.
* Model physics evaluation: evaluated the WRF model physics for its application in the northern Alaska coast region.
* Real-time weather forecast: led a real-time Alaska weather forecast with the MM5 and WRF models during 2003-2010.

2. Model Development
* Coupling sea ice and mixed layer ocean models within MM5 and WRF:  coupled a thermodynamic sea ice model and mixed layer ocean model with the mesoscale model MM5 for its application in the Arctic region. The coupling of the thermodynamic sea ice model with the WRF model is ongoing.
* Land surface model development: developed an improved land surface model within the regional climate model RegCM2.

3. Data Assimilation
* Soil moisture assimilation scheme development:  developed a soil moisture assimilation scheme using satellite-retrieved skin temperature in mesoscale weather forecast model.
* Data assimilation with WRF-Var:  assimilated both in-situ measured and satellite retrieved surface and up-air observations with the WRF-Var data assimilation system for producing the state-of-the-art reanalysis wind fields in the Chukchi/Beaufort Seas.

4. Regional Climate Study
* Regional climate and glacier change:  developed an atmosphere/glacier hierarchical modeling system for glacier change studies.
* Regional climate and inversion: investigated the surface-based temperature inversions in Alaska from a climate perspective.
* Regional climate and coastal erosion: performed downscaling of future climate scenarios with the WRF model to study how the climate change impacts on coastal erosion

5. Land-Vegetation-Air interaction Study with GCM
Conducted research study on the climate impacts of a greener north with GCM ARPEGE.

6. Arctic Climate Study
* Arctic cyclone: conducted climatology study of the Arctic cyclone activity during 1948 – 2002 with the NCAR/NCEP reanalysis.
* Arctic atmospheric circulation: detected an accelerating poleward movement and a radical spatial shift of the atmospheric circulation patterns in the Northern Hemisphere that has resulted in rapid climate change in the Arctic.


1. Impact of Storm Activity on Recent Changes in Arctic Sea Ice Mass Balance, 2010-2015, $783,622, funded by NSF, Co-I
2. Present and Future Contribution of Glacial Runoff to Freshwater Discharge, 2010-2012, $434,728, funded by NSF, Co-I
3. Chukchi/Beaufort Seas Mesoscale Meteorology Modeling Study, Phase II, 2009-2011, $1,399,312, funded by DoI/MMS, PI
4. Beaufort Sea Mesoscale Meteorology Modeling Study Phase I, 2006-2008, $350,000, funded by DoI/MMS, PI.
5. Travel grant to attend the SCAR/IASC 2008 IPY Conference in St. Petersburg, Russia, 2008, funded by NSF.
6. Social Vulnerability to Climate Change in the Alaskan Coastal Zone, 2005-2010, $1,370,000, funded by NOAA, Co-I.
7. Glaciers, Climate, the Ocean and Solid-Earth Deformation in Southern Alaska: an Interdisciplinary Study, 2004-2008, $1,200,000, funded by NASA, Co-I.
8. The Arctic MM5 Modeling System, 2000-2004, $500,000, funded by DoD through UPOS, Co-I.
9. Improving Sea-ice Physics in Mesoscale Modeling System MM5, 2001-2002, $200,000, funded by Frontier Research System for Global Change, Co-I.


1. Zhang, J. and X. Zhang, 2009, A Soil Moisture Assimilation Scheme using Satellite-retrieved Skin Temperature in Mesoscale Weather Forecast Model. Atmosphere Research, doi: 10.1016/j.atmosres.2009.09.003.
2. Bourne, S.M., U.S. Bhatt, J. Zhang, and R. Thoman, 2009, Surface-based Temperature Inversions in Alaska from a Climate Perspective, Atmosphere Research, doi: 10.1016/j.atmosres.2009.09.013
3. Zhang X., A. Sorteberg, J. Zhang, R. Gerdes, and J.C. Comiso, 2008, Recent Radical Shifts in Atmospheric Circulations and Rapid Changes in Arctic Climate System, Geophysical Research Letters, 35, L22701, doi:10.1029/2008GL035607.
4. Zhang J., U.S. Bhatt, W.V. Tangborn, and C.S. Lingle, 2007, Climate Downscaling for Estimating Glacier Mass Balances in Northwestern North America: Validation with a USGS Benchmark Glacier, Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1029/2007GL031139.
5. Zhang, J. and J.E. Walsh, 2007, Relative Impacts of Vegetation Coverage and Leaf Area Index on Climate Change in a Greener North, Geophysical Research Letters, 34, L15703, doi:10.1029 /2007GL030852.
6. Zhang J., U.S. Bhatt, W.V. Tangborn, and C.S. Lingle, 2007, Response of Glaciers in Northwestern North America to Future Climate Change: An Atmosphere/Glacier Hierarchical Modeling Approach, Annals Glaciology, 46, 283-290.
7. Bhatt U.S., J. Zhang, W.V. Tangborn, C.S. Lingle, and L.Phillips, 2007, Examining Glacier Mass Balances with a Hierarchical Modeling Approach, Computing in Science and Engineering, 9(2), 61-67.
8. Zhang, J. and J.E. Walsh, 2006, Thermodynamic and Hydrological Impacts of Increasing Greenness in Northern High Latitudes, Journal Hydrometeorology, 7, 1147-1163.
9. Zhang, X., J.E. Walsh, J. Zhang, U.S. Bhatt, and M. Ikeda, 2004, Climatology and Interannual Variability of Arctic Cyclone Activity, 1948-2002, Journal Climate, 17, 2300-2317.
10. Zhang, X., J.E. Walsh, J. Zhang, U.S. Bhatt, and M. Ikeda, 2004, Intensifying Arctic Cyclone Activity, Bulletin American Meteorology Society, 85, 949-950.
11. Zhang, X., and J. Zhang, 2001: Heat and freshwater budgets and their pathways in the Arctic Mediterranean in a coupled Arctic Ocean/Sea-ice model, Journal Oceanography, 57, 207-234.
12. Zhang, J., and Y. Ding, 1999: An improved land surface processes model and its simulation experiment: land surface processes model and its "off-line" tests and performance analyses, Acta Meteorologica Sinica, 13, 257-277.
13. Ding, Y., J. Zhang, and Z. Zhao, 1998: An improved land surface processes model and it simulation experiment: land surface processes model and its coupled simulation experiment with regional climate model, Acta Meteorologica Sinica, 56, 385-400.
14. Zhang, X., S. Huang, and J. Zhang, 1997: Analyses of dynamic structures of 1982/83 El Nino, Chinese Journal Atmosphere Science, 21, 659-669.
15. Zhang, J., and Y. Ding, 1997: An improved land surface processes model and its  "off-line" tests over eastern China, Chinese Journal of Applied Meteorology, 8, 58-68.
16. Zhang, J., Y. Ding, and Z. Zhao, 1996: Regional climate model and its simulation of land surface hydrological processes, Chinese Advances in Water Science, 7, 18-31.
17. Zhang, X., S. Huang, and J. Zhang, 1996: Characteristic mode model of tropical Pacific Ocean and dynamic mechanism of El Nino, Acta Oceanologica Sinica, 18, 32-42.
18. Zhang, J., T. Wei, and X. Zhang, 1995: Moist potential vorticity diagnosis of a Meiyu frontal heavy rain process simulation during summer 1991, Acta Meteorologica Sinica, 9, 466-479.
19. Wei, T., and J. Zhang, 1995: Structure diagnosis analysis of a Meiyu frontal heavy rain process simulation during summer 1991, Scientia Meteorologica Sinica, 15, 18-26.
20. Wei, T., and J. Zhang, 1995: Energetic analysis of a Meiyu frontal heavy rain process simulation during summer 1991, Journal of Nanjing University, 31, 495-505.
21. Zhang, J., and T. Wei, 1994: Diagnosis analysis of sub-circulation of Jianghuai-Meiyu front, Scientia Meteorologica Sinica, 14, 203-216.