John Chiang

Climate dynamics, paleoclimate, climate impacts

547 McCone Hall 
Office hours: by appointment

John’s research website.

As a kid growing up in South Africa, I was easily seduced by the slick first-world science by the likes of NASA and CERN (and, of course, Star Trek). I moved to the United States intending graduate studies in physics, but soon realized an applied bent and budding interest in the global environment. I met a professor studying climate; the rest is (as they say) history. It turned out to be a good fit. Climate science has roots in the basic physical sciences but branches everywhere: atmospheric science and oceanography are at the core, and with increasing links into geological, biological, and even social sciences. I also lucked out in the timing (thanks, mom!) by coming into this field at an interesting time; had I started fifty years ago, I might have been consigned to making charts of seasonal rainfall for tourist brochures. I enjoy the license to learn that goes with the job: on the one hand, researching processes of the climate system using pencil and paper or the latest kitchen sink climate models running on supercomputers; on the other hand, broadening my knowledge and making connections to environmental and societal issues through teaching and interacting with students and colleagues interested in climate change.

My research focuses on large-scale tropical atmosphere-ocean (and increasingly, land) systems and its interactions with the global climate. My early work was on the large-scale convective climate of the tropical Atlantic, which possesses a remarkable property of being exquisitely sensitive to change; and in changing, become agents of climate change elsewhere. It got me to thinking about the larger role the tropics play in the global climate system, in particular the way it responds to, and feeds back on, climate forcing. This line of questioning has led me to consider ocean-atmosphere interactions in different ocean basins, and the interactions between them; to interactions between the extratropics and tropics, focusing on processes as far removed as the thermohaline circulation, and building ice sheets. Past climate change motivate much of my research, as it offers valuable clues on the linkages between various climate processes and just how susceptible our climate is to change. My ultimate goal is to understand how the global climate reorganizes in the face of climate forcings, past and future; while that goal is still in the far distance, all signs point to the tropical climate as key.


Luković, J., Chiang, J.C.H., Blagojević, D. and Sekulić, A., 2021. A later onset of the rainy season in California. Geophysical Research Letters48(4), p.e2020GL090350.

Chiang, JCH, W Kong, C-H Wu, and DS Battisti, 2020.  Origins of East Asian Summer Monsoon Seasonality. Journal of Climate, 33(18), 7945-7965; DOI:10.1175/JCLI-D-19-0888.1

Chiang, JCH, MJ Herman, K Yoshimura, and IY Fung, 2020.  Enriched East Asian oxygen isotope of precipitation indicates reduced summer seasonality in regional climate and westerlies. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Jun 2020, 117 (26) 14745-14750; DOI:10.1073/pnas.1922602117

Chiang, JCH, JK Fischer, W Kong, and MJ Herman, 2019: Intensification of the pre-Meiyu rainband in the late 21st century.  Geophysical Research Letters, 46, 7536-7545

Bhattacharya, T., J.C.H. Chiang, and W. Cheng, "Ocean-atmosphere dynamics linked to 800–1050 CE drying in mesoamerica." Quaternary Science Reviews, 169, 263-277 (2017)

Kong, W., L.M. Swenson, and J.C.H. Chiang, Seasonal Transitions and the Westerly Jet in the Holocene East Asian Summer Monsoon.  Journal of Climate, 30(9), 3343-3365 (2017); DOI:10.1175/JCLI-D-16-0087.1 

Chiang, J.C.H., I. Y. Fung, C.-H. Wu, Y. Cai, J. P. Edman, Y. Liu, J. A. Day, T. Bhattacharya, Y. Mondal, and C. A. Labrousse: “Role of Seasonal Transitions and Westerly Jets in East Asian Paleoclimate”. Quaternary Science Reviews, 108, 111-129 (2015)

Friedman, A. R., Y.-T. Hwang, J. C. H. Chiang, and D. M. W. Frierson: “Interhemispheric Temperature Asymmetry over the 20th Century and in Future Projections”.  J. Climate, 26, 5419–5433 (2013)

Chiang, J.C.H., and A. R. Friedman: “Extratropical Cooling, Interhemispheric Thermal Gradients, and Tropical Climate Change”.  Annual Reviews of Earth and Planetary Sciences, 40, 383-412 (2012)

Chang, C.-Y, J.C.H. Chiang, M.F. Wehner, A.R. Friedman, and R. Ruedy: “Sulfate aerosol control of Tropical Atlantic climate over the 20th century.”  Journal of Climate, 24, 2540-2555 (2011).

Lee, S.-Y., J.C.H. Chiang, K. Matsumoto, and K. Tokos: “Southern Ocean wind response to North Atlantic cooling and the rise in atmospheric CO2: Modeling perspective and paleoceanographic implications”.  Paleoceaonography, 26, PA1214, doi:10.1029/2010PA002004 (2011)

Chiang, J. C. H.  The Tropics in Paleoclimate.  In Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, pp263-297, v37 (2009)

Chiang, J.C.H. and C.M. Bitz: Influence of high latitude ice cover on the marine Intertropical Convergence Zone. Climate Dynamics, 25, 477-496 (October 2005).

Chiang, J. C. H., and D. J. Vimont: Analogous Pacific and Atlantic meridional modes of tropical atmosphere-ocean variability. Journal of Climate, 17, 4143-4158 (2004)

Chiang, J.C.H., and A.H. Sobel: Tropical tropospheric temperature variations caused by ENSO and their influence on the remote tropical climate. Journal of Climate,15, 2616-2631 (2002).

Orlove, B.S., J.C.H. Chiang, and M.A. Cane: Forecasting Andean rainfall and crop yield from El Niño influences on atmospheric clarity. Nature, 403, 68-71 (2000).


Geog 40 Introduction to Earth Systems Science

Geog C139 / EPS C181 Atmospheric Physics and Dynamics

Geog 142 Climate Dynamics

L&S 70B Global Warming (with Nathan Sayre)

Geog 171 Communicating Climate Science (with Catherine Halversen)

Geog 249  Spatiotemporal Data Analysis in the Climate Sciences

Geog 257  Topics in Climatology