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Atmospheric Science & Global Change

Staff information

Kai Zhang

Kai Zhang

Climate Physics
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
PO Box 999
MSIN: K9-24
Richland, WA 99352


My research addresses the treatment and understanding of aerosol and cloud microphysics in the global aerosol-climate model system. I was involved in developing a new version of the global aerosol-climate model ECHAM5-HAM during my stay at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, Germany. Together with my colleagues in Europe, I used the model to estimate the climate effect of anthropogenic aerosols and quantify its uncertainty due to process representations in physical parametrizations and the coupling between competing processes.

My current research focuses on: a) Understanding the role of dynamics and microphysics in the ice cloud formation process and improving ice cloud parameterization in the Community Atmospheric Model CAM5; b) Assessing the aerosol indirect effect through ice/mixed-phase clouds; c) Sub-grid treatment of aerosol and cloud microphysical processes in global climate models.

Research Interests

  • Effect of aerosols on cold clouds
  • Numerical modeling of the aerosol-climate interaction
  • Long-range tracer transport and its inter-annual variability

Education and Credentials

  • Ph.D. in Meteorology, 2008, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
  • M.S. in Meteorology, 2004, Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, Beijing, China
  • B.S. in Meteorology, 2001, Ocean University of Qingdao, China

PNNL Publications


  • Jiao C, MG Flanner, Y Balkanski, S Bauer, N Bellouin, T Berntsen, H Bian, KS Carslaw, M Chin, N De Luca, T Diehl, SJ Ghan, T Iversen, A Kirkevag, D Koch, X Liu, GW Mann, JE Penner, G Pitari, M Schulz, O Seland, RB Skeie, SD Steenrod, P Stier, T Takemura, K Tsigaridis, T van Noije, Y Yun, and K Zhang. 2014. "An AeroCom Assessment of Black Carbon in Arctic Snow and Sea Ice." Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 14:2399-2417.  doi:10.5194/acp-14-2399-2014


  • Wan H, PJ Rasch, K Zhang, J Kazil, and LYR Leung. 2013. "Numerical Issues Associated with Compensating and Competing Processes in Climate Models: an Example from ECHAM-HAM." Geoscientific Model Development 6(3):861-874.  doi:10.5194/gmd-6-861-2013
  • Ghan SJ, SJ Smith, M Wang, K Zhang, KJ Pringle, KS Carslaw, J Pierce, SE Bauer, and PJ Adams. 2013. "A Simple Model of Global Aerosol Indirect Effects." Journal of Geophysical Research. D. (Atmospheres) 118(12):6688-6707.  doi:10.1002/jgrd.50567
  • Kinne S, D O'Donnell, P Stier, S Kloster, K Zhang, H Schmidt, S Rast, M Giorgetta, T Eck, and B Stevens. 2013. "MAC-v1: A New Global Aerosol Climatology for Climate Studies." Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems 5:704-740.  doi:10.1002/jame.20035
  • Ma PL, PJ Rasch, H Wang, K Zhang, RC Easter, Jr, S Tilmes, JD Fast, X Liu, JH Yoon, and JF Lamarque. 2013. "The Role of Circulation Features on Black Carbon Transport into the Arctic in the Community Atmosphere Model Version 5 (CAM5)." Journal of Geophysical Research. D. (Atmospheres) 118(10):4657-4669.  doi:10.1002/jgrd.50411
  • Myhre G, BH Samset, M Schulz, Y Balkanski, S Bauer, T Berntsen, H Bian, N Bellouin, M Chin, T Diehl, RC Easter, Jr, J Feichter, SJ Ghan, D Hauglustaine, T Iversen, S Kinne, A Kirkevag, JF Lamarque, G Lin, X Liu, MT Lund, G Luo, X Ma, T van Noije, JE Penner, PJ Rasch, A Ruiz, O Seland, RB Skeie, P Stier, T Takemura, K Tsigaridis, P Wang, Z Wang, L Xu, H Yu, F Yu, JH Yoon, K Zhang, H Zhang, and C Zhou. 2013. "Radiative Forcing of the Direct Aerosol Effect from AeroCom Phase II Simulations." Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 13(4):1853-1877.  doi:10.5194/acp-13-1853-2013
  • Samset BH, G Myhre, M Schulz, Y Balkanski, SE Bauer, T Berntsen, H Bian, N Bellouin, T Diehl, RC Easter, Jr, SJ Ghan, T Iversen, S Kinne, A Kirkevag, JF Lamarque, G Lin, X Liu, JE Penner, O Seland, RB Skeie, P Stier, T Takemura, K Tsigaridis, and K Zhang. 2013. "Black Carbon Vertical Profiles Strongly Affect its Radiative Forcing Uncertainty." Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 13(5):2423-2434.  doi:10.5194/acp-13-2423-2013
  • Six KD, S Kloster, T Ilyina, SD Archer, K Zhang, and E Maier-Reimer. 2013. "Global Warming Amplified by Reduced Sulfur Fluxes as a Result of Ocean Acidification." Nature Climate Change 3(11):975-978.  doi:10.1038/NCLIMATE1981
  • Zhang K, X Liu, M Wang, JM Comstock, D Mitchell, S Mishra, and GG Mace. 2013. "Evaluating and Constraining Ice Cloud Parameterizations in CAM5 using Aircraft Measurements from the SPARTICUS Campaign." Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 13(9):4963-4982.  doi:10.5194/acp-13-4963-2013


  • Liu X, X Shi, K Zhang, E Jensen, A Gettelman, D Barahona, A Nenes, and P Lawson. 2012. "Sensitivity Studies of Dust Ice Nuclei Effect on Cirrus Clouds with the Community Atmosphere Model CAM5." Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 12(24):12061-12079.  doi:10.5194/acp-12-12061-2012
  • Kazil J, K Zhang, P Stier, J Feichter, U Lohmann, and K O'Brien. 2012. "The present-day decadal solar cycle modulation of Earth's radiative forcing via charged H2SO4/H2O aerosol nucleation." Geophysical Research Letters 39:Article No. L02805.  doi:10.1029/2011GL050058
  • Ma PL, K Zhang, JJ Shi, T Matsui, and A Arking. 2012. "Direct Radiative Effect of Mineral Dust on the Development of African Easterly Waves in Late Summer, 2003-07." Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology 51(12):2090-2104.  doi:10.1175/JAMC-D-11-0215.1
  • Pringle KJ, KS Carslaw, T Fan, GW Mann, A Hill, P Stier, K Zhang, and H Tost. 2012. "A Multi-model Assessment of the Impact of Sea Spray Geoengineering on Cloud Droplet Number." Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 12(23):11647-11663.  doi:10.5194/acp-12-11647-2012
  • Wang M, SJ Ghan, X Liu, TL Ecuyer, K Zhang, H Morrison, M Ovchinnikov, RC Easter, Jr, R Marchand, D Chand, Y Qian, and JE Penner. 2012. "Constraining cloud lifetime effects of aerosols using A-Train satellite observations ." Geophysical Research Letters 39:L15709.  doi:10.1029/2012GL052204
  • Zhang K, D O'Donnell, J Kazil, P Stier, S Kinne, U Lohmann, S Ferrachat, B Croft, J Quaas, H Wan, S Rast, and J Feichter. 2012. "The global aerosol-climate model ECHAM-HAM, version 2: sensitivity to improvements in process representations." Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 12(19):8911-8949.  doi:10.5194/acp-12-8911-2012

Selected Publications


  • Kazil J, K Zhang, P Stier, J Feichter, U Lohmann, and K O'Brien. 2012. "The Present-Day Decadal Solar Cycle Modulation of Earth's Radiative Forcing via Charged H2SO4/H2O Aerosol Nucleation." Geophysical Research Letters 39: Art. No. L02805. doi:10.1029/2011GL050058.


  • Feng, W., Chipperfield, M. P., Dhomse, S., Monge-Sanz, B. M., Yang, X., Zhang, K., and Ramonet, M. 2011. "Evaluation of Cloud Convection and Tracer Transport in a Three-Dimensional Chemical Transport Model." Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 11(10):5783-5803. doi:10.5194/acpd-10-22953-2010.

  • Kulmala M, A Asmi, HK Lappalainen, et al., with J Feichter, D O'Donnell, and K Zhang, Editors. 2011. "General Overview: European Integrated Project on Aerosol Cloud Climate and Air Quality Interactions (EUCAARI) - Integrating Aerosol Research from Nano to Global Scales." Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 11:13,061-13,143. doi:10.5194/acp-11-13061-2011.

  • Zhang K, J Feichter, J Kazil, H Wan, W Zhuo, AD Griffiths, H Sartorius, W Zahoroski, M Ramonet, M Schmidt, C Yver, REM Neubert, and E-G Brunke. 2011. "Radon Activity in the Lower Troposphere and its Impact on Ionization Rate: A Global Estimate using Different Radon Emissions." Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 11:7817-7838. doi:10.5194/acp-11-7817-2011.


  • Kazil J, P Stier, K Zhang, J Quaas, S Kinne, D O'Donnell, S Rast, M Esch, S Ferrachat, U Lohmann, and J Feichter. 2010. "Aerosol Nucleation and its Role for Clouds and Earth's Radiative Forcing in the Aerosol-Climate Model ECHAM5-HAM." Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 10(5):10,733-10,752. doi:10.5194/acp-10-107 33-2010.

  • Zhang K, H Wan, B Wang, M Zhang, J Feichter, and X Liu. 2010. "Tropospheric Aerosol Size Distributions Simulated by Three Online Global Aerosol Models using the M7 Microphysics Module." Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 10(13):6409-6434. doi:10.5194/acp-10-6409-2010.


  • Zhang K, H Wan, B Wang, and M Zhang. 2008. "Consistency Problem with Tracer Advection in the Atmospheric Model GAMIL." Advances in Atmospheric Sciences 25(2):306-318. doi:10.1007/s00376-008-0306-z.

  • Zhang K, H Wan, M Zhang, and B Wang 2008. "Evaluation of the Atmospheric Transport in a GCM using Radon Measurements: Sensitivity to Cumulus Convection Parameterization." Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 8(10):2811-2832. doi:10.5194/acp-8-2811-2008.

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