Doctoral StudentDepartment of Earth
About Julia Kukulies
My research focuses on extreme precipitation and the evolution of storm systems in the Tibetan Plateau region. The plateau gives rise to many of the headwaters of Asia's largest river systems (e.g. Mekong, Yellow, Yangtze, Ganga, Indus) and is therefore an important region for freshwater resources. As many other mountain regions of the globe, it already experiences drastic hydro-climatic changes including permafrost degradation, glacier melt and changes in precipitation and river runoff. Because mountains act as a barrier for the atmospheric flow, the topography interacts with atmospheric water vapor transport and large-scale circulation systems which can lead to the formation of large storm systems in the downstream regions. Such precipitation bearing systems are important for the regional water cycle but may at the same time lead to severe flooding and heavy rainfall in populous areas.
The overall purpose of my research is to draw more robust conclusions about how future changes in atmospheric large-scale circulation might alter precipitation dynamics and affect both large storm systems and the whole water cycle in the region. In order to answer this question, it is crucial to understand the role of convection for precipitation. The more specific aims of my project are to identify 1. the spatial and temporal characteristics of organized convection (e.g. meso-scale convective systems) and 2. the underlying mechanisms for precipitation formation on different spatial and temporal scales. As regions with complex terrains are a challenge for both satellite retrievals and climate modelling, I try to make the best use of different data sources and combine insights from recent satellite observations with kilometer-scale climate model simulations.