Sumant Nigam's Homepage

Sumant Nigam
Department of Atmospheric & Oceanic Science (AOSC)
Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center (ESSIC)
Laboratory for Experimental Hydroclimate Prediction

3419 Atlantic Bldg. (224), 4254 Stadium Drive
University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA
Voice:(301) 405-5381 (5391); Fax:(301) 314-9482
Web Page:

Ph.D., Geophysical Fluid Dynamics 1984, Princeton University, USA
M.Sc., Physics 1978  (5-yr program), Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India

Sumant Nigam obtained his in Physics from the 5-year integrated science and engineering program at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, supported by the National Science Talent scholarship. He received his Ph.D. in Geophysical Fluid Dynamics from Princeton University in 1984, and postdoctoral training (1984-1987) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the department of Earth, Atmospheric & Planetary Sciences. He came to the University of Maryland in 1987. Sumant was director of the Large-scale Dynamic Meteorology program at the US National Science Foundation from 2000-2002. Sumant is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society and the Royal Meteorological Society, and a Jefferson Science Fellow of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. biosketch; brief-biosketch

  • HONR 238P: The Water Cycle and Water Wars of the American West (Honors Seminar; offered once in Fall 2007)
  • AOSC 610:    Dynamics of Atmosphere and Ocean - I (Core course in Fall; teach alternate years)
  • AOSC 611:    Dynamics of Atmosphere and Ocean - II (Core course in Spring; teach occasionally, last in 2010)
  • AOSC 617:    Atmospheric and Oceanic Climate (Core course in Spring; teach every year)
  • AOSC 658N North American Hydroclimate (Elective offered alternate years since Fall 2005, last in 2012; Course projects)
  • AOSC 671:    Ocean-Atmosphere Interaction (Elective taught in Spring 2004 & 2005 with James Carton)
  • AOSC 798/899: Directed Graduate/Dissertation Research (Sec # 2001)
  • Undergraduate Research Opportunity
    Select sophomores and juniors can participate in exciting climate analysis research through the Maryland Center for Undergraduate Research (MCUR). My MCUR project is on Climate links between remote regions (Teleconnections): Structure and mechanismsRequired: Interest/expertise in statistical analysis (e.g., correlations, analysis of variance) and a GPA of at least 3.50. Familiarity with MATLAB or comparable software packages will be helpful, as will be exposure to computer programming (Fortran) and UNIX OS. Background in Physics, Applied Math, or Environmental Sciences is preferred.
    Research Interests
  • Laboratory for Experimental Hydroclimate Prediction: The SST-based South Asian Summer Monsoon Rainfall Forecast
  • Water in the Mekong Basin: Seasonal and interannual variations in precipitation and streamflow; country contributions
  • Atmospheric teleconnections: Pentad evolution; dynamical mechanisms; contribution to extremes; hydroclimate
  • The striking seasonality in the secular warming of the Northern Continents: Structure and mechanisms
  • Recent warming of the Northern Continents: The contribution of multidecadal natural variability; mechanisms
  • 20th-Century climate change over the African Continent: Seasonal variation in hydroclimate trends and Sahara Desert extent
  • Seasonal and interannual variations of Arctic sea ice: Influence of atmospheric circulation and heat transports
  • Decadal variability in the North Atlantic: The role of the low-frequency NAO and the Gulf Stream excursions
  • Great Plains (GP) hydroclimate variability: Local and remote water sources; GP low-level jet variability; SST links
  • North American Droughts: Analysis and SST-based reconstruction (and prediction) of major 20th Century episodes
  • Evolution-centric SST analysis: Separation of natural variability and nonstationary secular trend: SST PCc are here
  • Multidecadal variability and secular change in the summer monsoon rainfall over the Gangetic Plain
  • South Asian summer monsoon dynamics: Origin of the "heat low"; impact of the expanding Thar desert
  • South Asian Regional Reanalysis: A NOAA - Ministry of Earth Sciences (India) collaboration
  • Diagnosis of 3D diabatic heating from ERA-40, ERA-15, and NCEP reanalyses; Monthly Heating here
  • Professional Preparation
    1984--1986    Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge; Postdoc with Richard S. Lindzen
    1979--1984    Princeton University; M.A., Ph.D. in Geophysical Fluid Dynamics; Advisor: Isaac M. Held
    1978--1979    University of Washington, Seattle; Graduate studies in Atmospheric Sciences
    1973--1978    Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India; M.Sc. in Physics (5-year program)
    1973--1978    National Science Talent Scholar, Government of India (national merit list, top five)
    1972/73          All India Higher Secondary Examination,CBSE, New Delhi (national merit list, top five)
    2016--2017    Foreign Affairs Officer, US Department of State, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs (EAP)
                          Senior Science Advisor, Office of Multilateral Affairs (EAP/MLA), Lower Mekong Initiative
    2016--2017    Jefferson Science Fellow, The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Washington, DC
    2003--            Professor, Atmospheric and Oceanic Science & Earth System Science, University of Maryland
    2000--2003    Director, Large-scale Dynamic Meteorology Program, National Science Foundation
    2002--2003    Program Officer, Water Cycle Research; Biocomplexity in the Environment Initiative; National Science Foundation
    1987--2002    Research Scientist, Research Professor; Department of Meteorology, University of Maryland
    2016--2017    Jefferson Science Fellow, The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Washington, DC
    2017--2018    Chair, Drafting Committee, American Meteorological Society's Information Statement on Climate Change
    2014--            Chair, Committee on Climate Variability and Change, American Meteorological Society
    2015--            Chair, Advisory Panel, Climate and Global Dynamics Laboratory (CGD), NCAR
    2013              Distinguished Alumnus Award, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India
    2012--            Member, International Commission on Dynamic Meteorology, IAMAS/IUGG, ICSU, Paris
    2012--            Member,International Commission on Dynamic Meteorology, IAMAS, IUGG
    2011--2012    Member, Board of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, The National Academies, Washington, DC
    2008--2010    Member, Climate Research Committee, The National Academies, Washington, DC
    2006--            Fellow, American Meteorological Society, Boston
    2005--2006    Editor, Journal of Climate (a top-ranked climate science journal of the American Meteorological Society)
    2003--            Fellow, Royal Meteorological Society, UK
    201x--            Listed in American Men and Women in Science; Marquis Who's Who
    2017--2019    Advisory Committee, Geosciences Directorate (AC-GEO), National Science Foundation
    2015--            Advisory Panel, National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Boulder
    201x              Committee of Visitors, NSF's Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences
    201x              Committee of Visitors, US Department of Energy's Climate & Environmental Sciences Division
    2011--2012    Lead, CMIP5 Task Force - MAPP Program, NOAA Climate Program Office, Washington DC
    2011--2014    Nominating Committee, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), Boulder
    2010--            Drought Interest Group, World Climate Research Programme, WMO
    2007--2010    US Principal Scientist, US-NOAA and India-MoES Collaborative on South Asian Regional Reanalysis
    2006--2009    Drought Working Group, US Climate Variability & Predictability (CLIVAR) Program, Washington DC
    2005--2006    Co-Chair, Phenomena, Observations, and Synthesis panel, US CLIVAR, Washington DC
    2005--2009    Co-Chair, Climate Variability Working Group, NCAR Community Earth System Model, Boulder CO
    2005--2006    Science Steering Committee, US CLIVAR, Washington DC
    2004--2005    Co-Chair, US CLIVAR Pacific Implementation Panel, Washington DC
    2003--2005    Committee on Climate Variability and Change, American Meteorological Society
    2014--2015    Co-Chair, 27th Conference on Climate Variability and Change, American Meteorological Society
    2011--            Organizer, The Eugene Rasmusson Lectures, Dept. of Atmospheric & Oceanic Science, University of Maryland
    2010--            U Md. Representative, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR)
    2008--            Member, India International Center, New Delhi, India
    2007              Co-Chair, The Eugene Rasmusson Symposium; Symposium booklet; Gene's Address; AMS Annual Meeting
                          Eugene Martin Rasmusson (27 February 1929 - 22 March 2015)
                          UMD Obituary; Obituary in BAMS; Interment at Arlington National Cemetery (some pictures)
    Current Students
  • Rebecca Eager (Ph.D. Candidate, Fall 2016; Scientist, Johns Hopkins APL): Multidecadal variability of late-summer Arctic sea ice: Role of Atlantic Multidecadal Variability
  • Ryan Clark (prospectus defense in Fall 2017; LT, US Coast Guard): Seasonal and interannual variability of Arctic sea ice: Dynamical mechanisms.
  • Natalie Thomas (joined 2014; prospectus defense in Fall 2017): Seasonality in the secular warming of the Northern Continents. National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship (2015-2018).
  • Agniv Sengupta (joined 2014; prospectus defense in Fall 2017): SST-based statistical prediction of South Asian summer monsoon rainfall distribution; 2017 Monsoon Rainfall Forecast. Supported by Dr. M. Rajeevan, National Monsoon Mission, Government of India, New Delhi.
  • Ni Dai (Ph.D. Candidate, Winter 2015; co-advisor: Phil Arkin, ESSIC): ENSO precipitation structure in observations and climate simulations.
  • Doctoral Theses Advised (2007-Present;  ALL)
  • Stephen Baxter (Ph.D., Winter 2015/16): Observed Teleconnections in Northern Winter: Subseasonal Evolution and Tropical Linkages. AMS Graduate Fellowship 2010; CMNS Dean's Fellowship 2011; Eugene Rasmusson Fellowship 2013; Best Student Publication 2015; Best Doctoral Dissertation 2016; Staff Meteorologist, NOAA Climate Prediction Center, College Park, MD.
  • Yongjing Zhao (Ph.D., Summer 2014; defense on 1 August; advisors: Eugenia Kalnay & Sumant Nigam): Application of breeding to nonlinear waves and diurnal cycle in the MARS reanalysis., Big Data Specialist, Capital One Bank, McLean, VA
  • Argyro Kavvada (Ph.D., Summer 2014; advisors: Sumant Nigam & Alfredo Ruiz-Barradas): Atlantic Multidecadal Variability: Surface and subsurface thermohaline structure and hydroclimate impacts. Eugene Rasmusson Fellowship 2014; Booz Allen Hamilton, NASA Headquarters, Washington DC
  • Kye-Hwan Kim (Ph.D., May 2013): Statistical Modeling of Atlantic hurricane activity using atmospheric reanalyses and IPCC simulations and projections. Lt. Colonel, South Korea Air Force, Seoul.
  • Massimo Bollasina (Ph.D., April 2010): Surface and aerosol effects on the South Asian monsoon hydroclimate. Wylie Dissertation Fellowship, Univ. of Maryland Graduate School 2008-2009; Best Student Seminar 2008; Global Climate Change Fellowship, The Green Fund Foundation 2009; Best Doctoral Dissertation 2010. Postdoc, NOAA/GFDL, Princeton University (2010-2013); WCRP Young Scientist Award 2011;WMO Norbert Gerbier-MUMM International Award 2013;
    AGU James R. Holton Junior Scientist Award 2013; Assistant Professor, University of Edinburgh, Scotland (2013-).
  • Bin Guan (Ph.D., October 2008): Pacific decadal SST variability and North American droughts. Wylie Dissertation Fellowship, Univ. of Maryland Graduate School, 2007-2008; Univ. of Maryland Goldhaber Travel Award 2007. Visiting Scientist, Climate Physics Group, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena.Bin Guan in NASA/JPL News.
  • Ching-Yee Chang (Ph.D., July 2008; advisors: Sumant Nigam & James Carton): Seasonal and interannual ocean-atmosphere variability in the tropical Atlantic: Observed structure and model representation. Univ. of Maryland Goldhaber Travel Award 2007; Visiting Scholar, Department of Geography, University of California, Berkeley.
  • Megan Linkin (Ph.D., May 2008): North Pacific climate variability and Arctic sea ice. AMS Global Change Travel Scholarship 2005-07; University of Maryland Goldhaber Travel Award 2006. Atmospheric Peril Specialist. Vice President, Global Partnerships, Swiss Re, Armonk, New York. Megan in NY Times.
  • Steven Chan (Ph.D., April 2008): On the summertime development of the North Pacific sea-level pressure anticyclone. NASA Earth System Science Fellow, 2004-07; NSF East Asian-Pacific Summer Inst. Fellow 2004. Scientist, UK Met Office, Exeter.
  • Scott Weaver (Ph.D., May 2007): The Great Plains Low-level Jet: Structure, variability mechanisms & hydroclimate impacts. Center for Teaching Excellence Distinguished Teaching Assistant Award, 2004-05;  Research Meteorologist, NOAA Climate Prediction Center, College Park;  Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) 2012; Senior Scientist, Environmental Defense Fund, Washington DC (2015-).
  • Recent Presentations (2011-Present;  2009-2010;  Conference Sessions)
  • The Stimson Center, Southeast Asia Program's Roundtable on Mekong Water Resources (12 July 2017)
  • Vietnam National Mekong Committee, Hanoi, Vietnam (8 May 2017)
  • Fourth Santa Fe Conference on Global and Regional Climate Change, Santa Fe, New Mexico (5-10 February 2017)
  • NCAR Community Earth System Modeling Wkshp., Climate Variability & Change Presentation, Breckenridge (20 June 2016)
  • National Institute of Oceanography Seminar, Government of India, Dona Paula, Goa, India (8 March 2016)
  • Biennial Rosenburg International Forum for Water Policy, Ninth Forum, Panama City, Panama (27-28 January 2016)
  • University of Edinburgh, School of Geosciences Seminar, Edinburgh (12 March 2015)
  • Ansal University: Workshop on Impacts of Aerosols and Changing Climate on Monsoons, India (12-15 January 2015)
  • Japan Society for Promotion of Science - Climate Change Symposium, Cosmos Club, Washington, DC (22 February 2013)
  • Department of Atmospheric Sciences, National Taiwan University (NTU), Taipei (21 September 2012)
  • NTU Intl Science Conference on Climate Change; Taida Institute for Mathematical Sciences, NTU, Taipei (17-20 Sept. 2012)
  • National Monsoon Mission: Consultancy Meeting; Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune (11-12 September 2012)
  • The Philander Symposium, Princeton University, NJ (6 September 2012)
  • LASG Seminar, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China (10 August 2012)
  • ICDM Workshop on Dynamics & Predictability of High Impact Weather & Climate Events, Kunming, China (6-9 August 2012)
  • Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (22 June 2012)
  • WCRP Global Drought Information Workshop, Frascati, Italy (11-13 April 2012)
  • Atmospheric Science & Physical Oceanography (CASPO) Seminar, University of California, San Diego (5 April 2012)
  • Institute for Terrestrial & Planetary Atmospheres, State University of New York, Stony Brook (21 March 2012)
  • Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, India; Golden Jubilee Celebrations, 21-25 February 2012
  • Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Irvine (19 December 2011)
  • NRC Workshop on Himalayan Glaciers, Hydrology and Climate Change, Washington, DC (19-20 October 2011)
  • GEWEX TRACE Workshop: The atmosphere/climate system. Silver Spring, MD (18-20 April 2011)
  • WCRP Workshop on Drought Predictability and Prediction in a Changing Climate, Barcelona, Spain (2-5 March 2011)
  • Caribbean GPS Observational Network, COCONet Workshop, San Juan, Puerto Rico (3-4 February 2011)
  • 25th Conference on Hydrology, AMS Annual Meeting, Seattle (27 January 2011)
  • NRC Committee on Climate, Energy, and National Security, Washington, DC (10-11 January 2011).
  • National Center for Medium Range Weather Forecasting Seminar, Ministry of Earth Sciences, India (5 January 2011)

    Reference Works
  • Nigam, S. and S. Baxter, 2014: Teleconnections. Invited contribution in Encyclopedia of Atmospheric Sciences  (2nd Edition; Editors: Gerald North, Fuqing Zhang and John Pyle) Academic Press, Elsevier Science, London, 90-109.
  • Nigam, S., 2003: Teleconnections. Encyclopedia of Atmospheric Sciences; Editors: J.R. Holton, J.A. Pyle & J.A. Curry; Academic Press, Elsevier Science, London, 2243-2269.
  • Nigam, S., and E. DeWeaver, 2003: Stationary Waves (Orographic and Thermally forced). Encyclopedia of Atmospheric Sciences; Editors: J.R. Holton, J.A. Pyle & J.A. Curry; Academic Press, Elsevier Science, London, 2121- 2137.

    Pre-2005    2005-2010

    1. Nigam, S., B. Guan, and A. Ruiz-Barradas, 2011: Key role of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation in 20th century drought and wet periods over the Great Plains. Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, L16713, doi:10.1029/2011GL048650.
    2. Nigam, S., and B. Guan, 2011: Atlantic Tropical Cyclones in the 20th Century: Natural Variability and Secular Change in Cyclone Count. Climate Dynamics, 36:2279-2293 DOI 10.1007/s00382-010-0908-x.
    3. Nigam, S., and M. Bollasina, 2011: Reply to comment by K. M. Lau and K. M. Kim on "'Elevated heat pump' hypothesis for the aerosol-monsoon hydroclimate link: 'Grounded' in observations? J. Geophys. Res. 116, D07204, doi:10.1029/2010JD015246.
    4. Bollasina, M., and S. Nigam, 2011: The Summertime "Heat" Low over Pakistan / Northwestern India: Evolution and Origin. Climate Dynamics, 37:957-970 DOI 10.1007/s00382-010-0879-y.
    5. Bollasina, M., and S. Nigam, 2011: Modeling of Regional Hydroclimate Change over the Indian Subcontinent: Impact of the Expanding Thar Desert. J. Climate, 24, 3089-3106.
    6. Bollasina, M., and S. Nigam, 2011: Increasing desertification of Northwestern India can adversely impact the South Asian monsoon. GEWEX News, 21, No. 2, 8-10.
    7. Weaver, S.J., and S. Nigam, 2011: Recurrent Supersynoptic Evolution of the Great Plains Low-Level Jet.
      J. Climate, 24, 575-582.
    8. Grodsky, S., J. Carton, S. Nigam, and Y. Okumura, 2012: Tropical Atlantic Biases in CCSM4. J. Climate, 25, 3684-3701.
    9. Ruiz-Barradas, A, and S. Nigam, 2013: Atmosphere-Land-surface Interactions over the Southern Great Plains: Characterization from Pentad Analysis of DOE-ARM Field Observations and NARR Reanalysis. J. Climate, 26, 875-886.
    10. Kavvada, A., A. Ruiz-Barradas, and S. Nigam, 2013: AMO's Structure and Climate Footprint in Observations and IPCC AR5 Climate Simulations. Climate Dynamics, DOI 10.1007/s00382-013-1712-1.
    11. Baxter, S., and S. Nigam, 2013: A Sub-Seasonal Teleconnection Analysis: PNA Development and Its Relationship to the NAO. J. Climate, 26, 6733-6741.
    12. Ruiz-Barradas, A., S. Nigam, and A. Kavvada, 2013: The Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation in 20th Century Climate Simulations: Uneven Progress from CMIP3 to CMIP5. Climate Dynamics, DOI 10.1007/s00382-013-1810-0.
    13. Sheffield, J., et al. (including S. Nigam), 2013: North American Climate in CMIP5 Experiments. Part I: Evaluation of Historical Simulations of Continental and Regional Climatology. J. Climate, 26, 9209-9245.
    14. Sheffield, J., et al. (including S. Nigam), 2013: North American Climate in CMIP5 Experiments. Part II: Evaluation of Historical Simulations of Intra-Seasonal to Decadal Variability. J. Climate, 26, 9247-9290.
    15. Nigam, S. and S. Baxter, 2014: Teleconnections. Invited contribution in Encyclopedia of Atmospheric Sciences  (2nd Edition; Editors: Gerald North, Fuqing Zhang and John Pyle) Academic Press, Elsevier Science, London, 90-109.
    16. Sheffield, J., et al. (including S. Nigam), 2014: Regional Climate Processes and Projections for North America: CMIP3/CMIP5 differences, attribution and outstanding issues. NOAA Technical Report OAR CPO-2.
    17. Nigam, S., Y. Zhao, A. Ruiz-Barradas, and T. Zhou, 2015: The South-Flood North-Drought Pattern over Eastern China and the Drying of the Gangetic Plain: Observations, Simulations, and Origin. Invited book chapter (pgs.347-360) in Climate Change: Multidecadal and Beyond (410pp.)  (Editors: Michael Ghil, Mojif Latif, Mike Wallace and C.P. Chang), World Press. ISBN:9789814579926
    18. Zhao, Y., and S. Nigam, 2015: The Indian Ocean Dipole: A Monopole in SST. J. Climate, 28, 3-19.
    19. Baxter, S., and S. Nigam, 2015: Key Role of North Pacific Oscillation/West Pacific Pattern in Generating the Extreme 2013-2014 North American Winter. J. Climate, 28, 8109-8117.
    20. Wallace, J. M., and S. Nigam, 2015: Eugene M. Rasmusson (1929-2015). Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 96, 1804-1808.
    21. Nigam, S., and A. Ruiz-Barradas, 2016: Key Role of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation in 20th Century Drought and Wet Periods over the US Great Plains and the Sahel. Invited book chapter (pgs.255-270) Dynamics and Predictability of Large-scale High-Impact Weather and Climate Events  (Editors: Jianping Li, Richard Swinbank, Hans Volkert and Richard Grotjahn) Cambridge University Press. ISBN:9781316468746
    22. Nigam, S., 2016: Atmospheric Science of Humid Areas: Why are humid areas humid? Invited peer-reviewed book chapter, Rosenberg International Forum on Water Policy, California Institute for Water Resources, University of California; to be published by Routledge Press, London.
    23. Chafik, L, and co-authors (S Nigam), 2016: Global Linkages Originating from Decadal Oceanic Variability in the Subpolar North Atlantic. Geophys. Res. Lett. , 10.1002/2016GL071134
    24. Nigam, S., N. Thomas, A. Ruiz-Barradas, and S. Weaver, 2017: Striking Seasonality in the Secular Warming of the Northern Continents: Structure and Mechanisms. J. Climate (in press; submitted 20th October 2016; accepted 3rd April).
    25. Nigam, S., A. Ruiz-Barradas, and L. Chafik, 2017: Gulf Stream Excursions Generate the Decadal Pulses in Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. J. Climate (under revision; submitted 6th January).
    26. Thomas, N., and S. Nigam, 2017: 20th-Century Climate Change over Africa: Seasonal Variation in Hydroclimate Trends and Sahara Desert Extent. J. Climate (under revision; submitted 21st March).
    27. Thomas, N., V. Ravi, and S. Nigam, 2017: Seasonality in the Vertical Structure of Temperature Trends over North America. To be submitted to the J. Climate in early July.

      Science Cover (28 May 2004)
      Acknowledgements: I thank Owen Thompson for his advice and help with web-page development; Owen generously provided his web-page template and photo-editing skills.