Sukyoung Lee

Sukyoung Lee

  • Professor of Meteorology
  • John T. Ryan, Jr. Faculty Fellow in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences
519 Walker Building
University Park, PA 16802
Phone: (814) 863-1587


  1. PhD -- Princeton University

Research Specialties:

Atmospheric Dynamics:

Planetary Atmospheres




Research Interests

My research interests are on the general circulation of the atmosphere and ocean. For Earth's atmosphere, my research topics include midlatitude storm tracks, westerly jets, the Hadley circulation, the tropopause, the Brewer-Dobson circulation, and polar amplification of surface warming. For the ocean, my research topics include overturning circulations and mixed layers in the Southern Ocean. For planetary atmospheres, I have studied the atmospheric circulation in tidally locked planets and in Jupiter. Over the past decade, I also became interested in climate and climate change from the perspective of general circulation theories. This perspective led me to theorize why the east-west gradient in tropical convective heating is likely to increase as the climate warms. If you are interested in reading some of my papers, I invite you to visit my publication site in

Teaching Interests

Atmospheric dynamics, physical oceanography, climate dynamics.

Graduate Students

I study basic aspects of atmospheric and oceanic phenomena.  Accordingly, my general research approach is to form an hypothesis for a mechanism, and then to test the hypothesis.  As a research tool, I use a hierarchy of numerical models, observations, and analytical approaches. I also believe that my students enjoy a high level of intellectual freedom in the sense that they are strongly encouraged to challenge my ideas.

Selected Publications

Park*, M.-G., and S. Lee, 2020: A mechanism for the midwinter minimum in North Pacific storm-track intensity from a global perspective. Geophy. Res. Lett.,47, 10.1029/2019GL086052.

Clark*, J. P., and S. Lee, 2019: The Role of the Tropically Excited Arctic Warming Mechanism on the Warm Arctic Cold Continent Surface Air Temperature Trend Pattern. Geophysical Research Letters, 46, 8490– 8499.

Lee, S., C. Woods and R. Caballero, 2019: Relation between Arctic moisture flux and tropical temperature biases in CMIP5 simulations and its fingerprint in RCP8.5 projections. Geophys. Res. Lett., doi:10.1029/2018GL080562.

Li*, Q., and S. Lee, 2017: A mechanism of mixed-layer formation in the Indo-western Pacific Southern Ocean: preconditioning by an eddy-driven jet-scale overturning circulation. J. Phys. Oceanogr., 47, 2755-2772. 

Gong, T., S. B. Feldstein, and S. Lee, 2017: The role of downward infrared radiation in the recent Arctic winter warming trend. J. Climate, DOI:

Li*, Q., S. Lee, and A. Griesel, 2016: Eddy fluxes and jet-scale overturning Circulations in the Indo-Western Pacific Southern Ocean. J. Phys. Oceanogr., 46, 2943-2959. 
Sohn, B.-J., S. Lee, E.-S. Chung, and H.-J. Song, 2016: The role of the dry static stability for the recent change in the Pacific Walker Circulation. J. Climate, 29, 2765-2779. 

Baggett* C., and S. Lee, 2015: Arctic warming induced by tropically forced tapping of available potential energy and the role of the planetary-scale waves
J. Atmos. Sci., 72, 1562-1568. 

Lee, S., 2014: A theory for polar amplification from a general circulation perspective.
Asia-Pac. J. Atmos. Sci., 50(1), 31-43.

Haqq-Misra*, J., S. Lee, D. Frierson, 2011: Tropopause structure and the role of eddies.
J. Atmos. Sci., 68, 2930-2944.

Lee, S., T. T. Gong*, N. C. Johnson, S. B. Feldstein, and D. Pollard, 2011: On the possible link between tropical convection and the Northern Hemisphere Arctic surface air temperature change between 1958-2001.
J. Climate, 24, 4350-4367.

Edson*, A., S. Lee, P. Bannon, J. Kasting, and D. Pollard, 2011: Atmospheric Circulations of terrestrial planets orbiting low mass stars.
ICARUS, 212, 1-13.

Yoo*, C., and S. Lee, 2010: Persistent multiple jets and potential vorticity staircase.
J. Atmos. Sci., 67, 2279-2295.

Lee, S., 2010: Finite-amplitude equilibration of baroclinic waves on a jet.
J. Atmos. Sci., 67, 434-451.

 Ryu*, J.-H., and S. Lee, 2010: Effect of tropical waves on the tropical tropopause-transition-layer upwelling. J. Atmos. Sci.,67, 3130-3148.

Lee, S., and H.-k. Kim*, 2003: The dynamical relationship between subtropical and eddy-driven jets. J. Atmos. Sci., 60, 1490-1503.

Boehm*, M. and S. Lee, 2003: The mechanism of tropical cirrus cloud formation and upwelling of the Brewer-Dobson circulation. J. Atmos. Sci., 60, 247-261. 

Lee, S., 1999: Why are the climatological zonal mean winds easterly in the equatorial upper troposphere? J. Atmos. Sci., 56, 1353-1363. 

Lee, S., 1997: Maintenance of multiple jets in a baroclinic flow.
J. Atmos. Sci., 54, 1726-1738. 

Lee*, S., and I. M. Held, 1993: Baroclinic wave packets in models and observations.
J. Atmos. Sci., 50, 1413-1428