Atkinson, David


Phone number: (250) 721-7332
Department: Geography

Research description:

Research Description

Synoptic meteorology, climatology, storm tracks and dynamics
Storm-driven waves and storm surge using instruments and numerical models
Societal aspects of coastal weather
Weather and snowpack response on Rockies icefields
Focus region: Arctic and Pacific Coast, Rockies

Expertise Profile

My primary interests centre around the "environmental forcing" of coastal zones and the analysis of the weather that causes these events, specifically storms. Much this focuses on how storm winds affect coastal zones via "ocean states" - that is, the severe waves or storm surges that they cause. In the north, this also includes giving special attention to the unique complicating conditions introduced by the presence of sea-ice and frozen ground.

More generally, my work encompasses the investigation of high-latitude storm and storm track dynamics, the response of the ocean surface to winds, statistical characterization of extreme events, and links to societal impacts via interdisciplinary partnerships. I work in “the field” as well as with computer analyses. Field work means deploying major field instrumentation (buoys, RDCPs) and visiting remote Arctic coastal communities for discussions about weather impacts.

Computer work includes large-scale analyses of data as well as detailed numerical modelling of phenomenon such as storm surges and ocean waves using what are termed finite-element models, run on supercomputers. Fieldwork takes me to coastal western Alaska and is expanding to the Canadian Arctic, where I started with my Masters and PhD.

Related Links

International research:

Yes, extensive research in coastal Alaska and research collaborations and publications concerning the Russian Arctic coast and circum-Arctic climate and coastal issues. Some work with Hawaii and broader Pacific storm and coastal impacts issues.

International activities:

Reviewer for Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Invited authorship for the US National Climate Assessment Coasts Chapter Associate Editor for a major US research journal, Journal of Geophysical Research - Atmospheres

Countries lived or worked in:

I have lived and worked in the US (Alaska and Oklahoma)

Community projects

Yes; I have worked with Ocean Networks Canada to analyze data from their Neptune array to characterize storms and wave conditions off the west coast of Vancouver Island. We have also submitted proposals to obtain major instrumentation to measure waves in the same area. My research group also conducts storm and wave analyses that include this region.

< Browse all experts