My work covers many aspects of mid- and high latitude atmospheric dynamics, in particular fronts, jets and orography and air-ice-sea interaction. Some key results from my work are summarized here.

Jets, blocking and storm track variability

  • The Southern Annular Mode (SAM) does not represent southern mid-latitude variability, but rather variability over Antartica and along its coast line (Spensberger et al. 2020, doi: 10.1175/JCLI-D-19-0224.1).
  • Jet variability does not necessarily follow geopotential variability (Spensberger and Spengler 2020, doi: 10.1175/JCLI-D-19-0715.1).
  • The stronger a jet, the less does it vary in position around its climatological mean, and the more does it favour anticyclonic wave breaking (Woollings et al. 2018, doi: 10.1175/JCLI-D-17-0286.1).
  • The same blocking high pressure can lead to concurrent heat waves in different regions through different mechanisms (Spensberger et al. 2020, doi: 10.1002/qj.3822)

Air-ice-sea interaction

  • Increasing atmospheric resolution and a sharper sea-ice edge invigorates the atmospheric water cycle in a cold-air outbreak (Spensberger and Spengler 2021, doi: 10.1029/2020JD033610).
  • The temperature contrast along the SST fronts affects the atmosphere primarily in the absence of cyclones and fronts (Tsopouridis et al. 2021, discussion paper doi: 10.5194/wcd-2020-50; Reeder et al. 2021, doi: 10.1175/JAS-D-20-0118.1).
  • Year-to-year variability in the heat loss to the atmosphere over the Arctic Ocean and Nordic Seas is driven by atmospheric variability, and associated with variations in the occurrence of cyclones and cold-air-outreaks (Smedsrud et al. 2021, submitted to Reviews of Geophysics, preprint doi: 10.1002/essoar.10506171.1).

Frontal dynamics

  • It is useful to distinguish not only between cold and warm fronts, but also between fronts that are more/less (a) kinematically intense, (b) affected by moist processes and (c) associated with surface fluxes (Spensberger and Sprenger 2018, doi: 10.1002/qj.3199).

Impact of orography on synoptic systems

  • The Scandinavian mountains had only a minor influence on the evolution of the New Year's Day Storm 1992, although the mountain range separated the cyclone core from the cyclone's warm sector (Spensberger and Schemm 2020, doi: 10.5194/wcd-1-175-2020).
  • We lack a satisfactory conceptual model to describe and explain cyclogenesis in the lee of the Rocky Mountains (Spensberger et al. 2017, doi: 10.1175/MWR-D-16-0195.1).

Idealised modelling

  • I am the main developer of the quasi-geostrophic and primitive-equation model Bedymo (manuscript submitted to GMD).

Newspaper article

Online articles

Current supervision activities

  • Co-supervision of 2 ongoing PhD projects

Completed supervision activities

  • Effective main supervision of master project (Trond Thorssteinson 2013)
  • Co-supervision of master projects (Angus Munro 2011, Kristian Alvsvåg 2014, Hilde Marie Vaaga 2015, Marit Dagny Kristine Jenssen 2017, Kjersti Konstali 2019)
  • 3-month student project through Arts & Science collaboration (Qinglin "Collin" You 2020)
  • Main supervision of 3-month Bachelor project (Dario Peyer 2016)
  • Main supervision of 2-3 month master-level internship projects (2018-2020)

Current teaching activities

  • Lecturer in short block courses: Introduction to python for PhD students and staff
    (Course materials available on github)

Previous teaching activities

  • Teaching assistant in Large-scale atmospheric dynamics
  • Teaching assistant in Mesoscale atmospheric dynamics
Academic article
  • Show author(s) (2022). Insights into the quantification and reporting of model-related uncertainty across different disciplines. iScience. 16 pages.
  • Show author(s) (2022). Driving Mechanisms of an Extreme Winter Sea Ice Breakup Event in the Beaufort Sea. Geophysical Research Letters.
  • Show author(s) (2022). Bedymo: A combined quasi-geostrophic and primitive equation model in σ coordinates. Geoscientific Model Development. 2711-2729.
  • Show author(s) (2021). The Effect of Sea Surface Temperature Fronts on Atmospheric Frontogenesis. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences. 1753-1771.
  • Show author(s) (2021). Sensitivity of Air-Sea Heat Exchange in Cold-Air Outbreaks to Model Resolution and Sea-Ice Distribution. Journal of Geophysical Research (JGR): Atmospheres. 13 pages.
  • Show author(s) (2021). Dynamical drivers of Greenland blocking in climate models. Weather and Climate Dynamics (WCD). 1131-1148.
  • Show author(s) (2020). The connection between the Southern Annular Mode and a feature-based perspective on Southern Hemisphere mid-latitude winter variability. Journal of Climate. 115-129.
  • Show author(s) (2020). Smoother versus sharper Gulf Stream and Kuroshio sea surface temperature fronts: effects on cyclones and climatology. Weather and Climate Dynamics (WCD). 953-970.
  • Show author(s) (2020). Overview of the Norwegian Earth System Model (NorESM2) and key climate response of CMIP6 DECK, historical, and scenario simulations. Geoscientific Model Development. 6165-6200.
  • Show author(s) (2020). Front–orography interactions during landfall of the 1992 New Year's Day Storm. Weather and Climate Dynamics (WCD). 175-189.
  • Show author(s) (2020). Feature-Based Jet Variability in the Upper Troposphere. Journal of Climate.
  • Show author(s) (2020). Dynamics of concurrent and sequential Central European and Scandinavian heatwaves. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society.
  • Show author(s) (2020). Cyclone Intensification in the Kuroshio Region and its relation to the Sea Surface Temperature Front and Upper‐Level Forcing. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society. 485-500.
  • Show author(s) (2020). Characteristics of cyclones following different pathways in the Gulf Stream region. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society. 392-407.
  • Show author(s) (2018). Daily to decadal modulation of jet variability. Journal of Climate. 1297-1314.
  • Show author(s) (2018). Beyond cold and warm: An objective classification for maritime mid-latitude fronts. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society. 261-277.
  • Show author(s) (2017). Upper-Tropospheric Jet Axis Detection and Application to the Boreal Winter 2013/14. Monthly Weather Review. 2363-2374.
  • Show author(s) (2017). Synoptic Systems interacting with the Rocky Mountain Barrier: Observations and Theories. Monthly Weather Review. 783-794.
  • Show author(s) (2014). A new look at deformation as a diagnostic for large-scale flow. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences. 4221-4234.
  • Show author(s) (2020). Monthly means of instantaneous diagnostics for key atmospheric processes - Mind the KAP . 401. 401. .
  • Show author(s) (2022). Weather events driving changes in sea ice concentration.
  • Show author(s) (2022). Model sensitivities of heat exchange in cold-air outbreaks and through leads.
Feature article
  • Show author(s) (2018). Er ekstremsommeren tegn på klimaendringer? Bergens Tidende.
Doctoral dissertation
  • Show author(s) (2015). New approaches to investigate the influence of orographic and dynamic blocking on large-scale atmospheric flow.
Academic literature review
  • Show author(s) (2022). Nordic Seas Heat Loss, Atlantic Inflow, and Arctic Sea Ice cover over the last century. Reviews of Geophysics.
Website (informational material)
  • Show author(s) (2022). Summer School – Outreach, Teaching, and the IPCC Report.

More information in national current research information system (CRIStin)

Ongoing projects

  • Particpant in Atmosphere‐Sea Ice interactions in the new Arctic (ARIA) 2021-2024 funded by the Research Council of Norway.
  • Participant in Atmosphere-Ocean-Ice interactions (AOI) 2018-2021 funded by the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research.

Previous projects

  • Co-lead of Bjerknes Fast Track Initiative 2020 to the internal ERA-5 renalysis repository more accessible for climate-oriented analyses.
  • Lead of Bjerknes Fast Track Initiative 2019 (MIND the KAP) to make detected weather events directly available as output from the locally-developed climate model.
  • Lead of post doc mobility project (FRIO) on Front-Orography interactions 2015-2018.

I have developed several larger software projects from scratch

Research groups