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Staff information


Chun Zhao

Earth Systems Analysis & Modeling
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
PO Box 999
MSIN: K9-30
Richland, WA 99352


Dr. Chun Zhao joined the Climate Physics group of PNNL in 2009 with his Ph.D. degree in Atmospheric Science from Georgia Institute of Technology. Dr. Zhao has extensive experience on development and application of regional and global models to investigate challenging issues in Atmospheric Science such as modeling atmospheric aerosols and their direct and indirect effects on climate and hydrological cycle and understanding interactions between air pollutants and climate change. He has been highly involved in the development and application of the WRF-Chem model for studies in aerosol-cloud-precipitation interactions. Recently, Dr. Zhao is active in using the WRF-Chem model to advance our understanding of land and atmospheric processes associated with dust modeling. His research focuses on improving model treatments of dust aerosol and understanding dust climatic impact and its modeling uncertainties. Other research by Dr. Zhao has focused on studying uncertainties in simulating radiative forcing and hydrological cycle using global and regional climate models.

Before joining PNNL, Dr. Zhao was a research assistant at Georgia Institute of Technology. He significantly contributed to the development of a regional chemical transport model (REAM) coupled with the U.S. weather forecast model (WRF), which has been widely used for various researches about atmospheric environment science. In addition, he also applied the WRF-REAM model with various in-situ and satellite observations to understand fundamental air quality issues over North America and East Asia.

Research Interests

  • Modeling of atmospheric aerosols and their direct and indirect effects on climate
  • Modeling of atmospheric chemistry and transport processes
  • Modeling across scales
  • Interaction between air pollution and climate change
  • Interaction between land and atmosphere
  • hydrological cycle

Education and Credentials

  • Ph.D., Atmospheric Science, Georgia Institute of Technology, 2009
  • M.S., Atmospheric Science, Georgia Institute of Technology, 2007
  • B.S., Atmospheric Physics, University of Science and Technology of China, 2005
  • B.A., Management, University of Science and Technology of China, 2005

Affiliations and Professional Service

  • American Geophysical Union, Member since 2007
  • American Meteorological Society, Member since 2010
  • European Geosciences Union, Member since 2010
  • American Association for Aerosol Research, Member since 2011

Awards and Recognitions

  • Exceptional Contribution Program Award, Pacific Northwest National Lab, 2014
  • Outstanding Performance Award, Pacific Northwest National Lab, 2014
  • Glen Cass Award, Georgia Institute of Technology, 2009
  • Outstanding Student Scholarship, University of Science and Technology of China, 2002-2005

PNNL Publications


  • Feng Y, VR Kotamarthi, RL Coulter, C Zhao, and M Cadeddu. 2016. "Radiative and Thermodynamic Responses to Aerosol Extinction Profiles during the Pre-monsoon Month over South Asia." Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 16:247-264.  doi:10.5194/acp-16-247-2016
  • Gao W, J Fan, RC Easter, Jr, Q Yang, C Zhao, and SJ Ghan. 2016. "Coupling Spectral-bin Cloud Microphysics with the MOSAIC Aerosol Model in WRF-Chem: Methodology and Results for Marine Stratocumulus Clouds." Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems 8(3):1289-1309.  doi:10.1002/2016MS000676
  • Hagos SM, Z Feng, CD Burleyson, C Zhao, M Martini, and LK Berg. 2016. "Moist process biases in simulations of the Madden-Julian Oscillation episodes observed during the AMIE/DYNAMO field campaign." Journal of Climate 29(3):1091-1107.  doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-15-0349.1
  • Hu Z, C Zhao, J Huang, LYR Leung, Y Qian, H Yu, L Huang , and O Kalashnikova. 2016. "Trans-Pacific transport and evolution of aerosols: evaluation of quasi-global WRF-Chem simulation with multiple observations ." Geoscientific Model Development 9(5):1725-1746.  doi:10.5194/gmd-9-1725-2016
  • Shrivastava MKB, C Zhao, RC Easter, Jr, Y Qian, A Zelenyuk, JD Fast, Y Liu, Q Zhang, and AB Guenther. 2016. "Sensitivity Analysis of simulated SOA loadings using a Variance-Based Statistical Approach." Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems 8(2):499-519.  doi:10.1002/2015MS000554
  • Wang L, Y Qian, Y Zhang, C Zhao, LYR Leung, A Huang, and C Xiao. 2016. "Observed Variability of Summer Precipitation Pattern and Extreme Events in East China Associated with Variations of the East Asian Summer Monsoon." International Journal of Climatology 36(8):29422957.  doi:10.1002/joc.4530
  • Yang Y, J Fan, LYR Leung, C Zhao, Z Li, and D Rosenfeld. 2016. "Mechanisms Contributing to Suppressed Precipitation in Mt. Hua of Central China, Part I: Mountain Valley Circulation." Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences 73(3):1351-1366.  doi:10.1175/JAS-D-15-0233.1
  • Zhang K, C Zhao, H Wan, Y Qian, RC Easter, Jr, SJ Ghan, K Sakaguchi, and X Liu. 2016. "Quantifying the impact of sub-grid surface wind variability on sea salt and dust emissions in CAM5." Geoscientific Model Development 9(2):607-632.  doi:10.5194/gmd-9-607-2016
  • Zhao C, M Huang, JD Fast, LK Berg, Y Qian, A Guenther , D Gu, MKB Shrivastava, Y Liu, S Walters, G Pfister, J Jin, JE Shilling, and C Warneke. 2016. "Sensitivity of biogenic volatile organic compounds to land surface parameterizations and vegetation distributions in California." Geoscientific Model Development 9(5):1959-1976.  doi:10.5194/gmd-9-1959-2016


  • Qian Y, H Yan, Z Hou, G Johannesson, SA Klein, D Lucas, R Neale, PJ Rasch, LP Swiler, J Tannahill, H Wang, M Wang, and C Zhao. 2015. "Parametric Sensitivity Analysis of Precipitation at Global and Local Scales in the Community Atmosphere Model CAM5." Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems 7(2):382-411.  doi:10.1002/2014MS000354
  • Sakaguchi K, LYR Leung, C Zhao, Q Yang, J Lu, SM Hagos, S Rauscher, L Dong, T Ringler, and PH Lauritzen. 2015. "Exploring a Multi-resolution Approach Using AMIP Simulations." Journal of Climate 28(14):55495574.  doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-14-00729.1
  • Evan AT, S Fiedler, C Zhao, L Menut, K Schepanski, C Flamant, and O Doherty. 2015. "Derivation of an observation-based map of North African dust emission." Aeolian Research 16:153162.  doi:10.1016/j.aeolia.2015.01.001
  • Fan J, D Rosenfeld, Y Yang, C Zhao, LYR Leung, and Z Li. 2015. "Substantial Contribution of Anthropogenic Air Pollution to Catastrophic Floods in Southwest China." Geophysical Research Letters 42(14):6066-6075.  doi:10.1002/2015GL064479
  • Hagos SM, LYR Leung, Q Yang, C Zhao, and J Lu. 2015. "Resolution and Dynamical Core Dependence of Atmospheric River Frequency in Global Model Simulations." Journal of Climate 28(7):2764-2776.  doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-14-00567.1
  • Huang X, Y Song, C Zhao, X Cai, H Zhang, and T Zhu. 2015. "Direct radiative effect by multicomponent aerosol over China." Journal of Climate 28(9):34723495.  doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-14-00365.1
  • Kulkarni GR, K Zhang, C Zhao, MI Nandasiri, V Shutthanandan, X Liu, JD Fast, and LK Berg. 2015. "Ice formation on nitric acid coated dust particles: Laboratory and modeling studies." Journal of Geophysical Research. D. (Atmospheres) 120(15):7682-7698.  doi:10.1002/2014JD022637
  • Yan H, Y Qian, C Zhao, H Wang, M Wang, B Yang, X Liu, and Q Fu. 2015. "A New Approach to Modeling Aerosol Effects on East Asian Climate: Parametric Uncertainties Associated with Emissions, Cloud Microphysics and their Interactions." Journal of Geophysical Research. D. (Atmospheres) 120(17):89058924.  doi:10.1002/2015JD023442
  • Yu H, M Chin, T Yuan, H Bian, LA Remer, J Prospero, A Omar, D Winker, Y Yang, Y Zhang, Z Zhang, and C Zhao. 2015. "The Fertilizing Role of African Dust in the Amazon Rainforest: A First Multiyear Assessment Based on Data from Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations." Geophysical Research Letters 42(6):1984-1991.  doi:10.1002/2015GL063040
  • Zhong S, Y Qian, C Zhao, LYR Leung, and X Yang. 2015. "A Case Study of Urbanization Impact on Summer Precipitation in the Greater Beijing Metropolitan Area: Urban Heat Island Versus Aerosol Effects." Journal of Geophysical Research. D. (Atmospheres) 120(20):10903-10914.  doi:10.1002/2015JD023753


  • Lim KS, J Fan, LYR Leung, PL Ma, B Singh, C Zhao, Y Zhang, G Zhang, and X Song. 2014. "Investigation of Aerosol Indirect Effects using a Cumulus Microphysics Parameterization in a Regional Climate Model." Journal of Geophysical Research. D. (Atmospheres) 119(2):906926.  doi:10.1002/2013JD020958
  • Wan H, PJ Rasch, K Zhang, Y Qian, H Yan, and C Zhao. 2014. "Short ensembles: An Efficient Method for Discerning Climate-relevant Sensitivities in Atmospheric General Circulation Models." Geoscientific Model Development 7(5):1961-1977.  doi:10.5194/gmd-7-1961-2014
  • Chen S, C Zhao, Y Qian, LYR Leung, J Huang, Z Huang, J Bi, W Zhang, J Shi, L Yang, D Li, and J Li. 2014. "Regional Modeling of Dust Mass Balance and Radiative Forcing over East Asia using WRF-Chem." Aeolian Research 15:15-30.  doi:10.1016/j.aeolia.2014.02.001
  • Gao Y, C Zhao, X Liu, M Zhang, and LYR Leung. 2014. "WRF-Chem Simulations of Aerosols and Anthropogenic Aerosol Radiative Forcing in East Asia." Atmospheric Environment 92:250-266.  doi:10.1016/j.atmosenv.2014.04.038
  • Guo Z, M Wang, Y Qian, VE Larson, SJ Ghan, M Ovchinnikov, P Bogenschutz, C Zhao, G Lin, and T Zhou. 2014. "A Sensitivity Analysis of Cloud Properties to CLUBB Parameters in the Single-Column Community Atmosphere Model (SCAM5)." Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems 6(3):829858.  doi:10.1002/2014MS000315
  • Huang X, Y Song, C Zhao, M Li, T Zhu, Q Zhang, and X Zhang. 2014. "Pathways of sulfate enhancement by natural and anthropogenic mineral aerosols in China." Journal of Geophysical Research. D. (Atmospheres) 119(24):14,16514,179.  doi:10.1002/2014JD022301
  • Kulkarni GR, CN Sanders, K Zhang, X Liu, and C Zhao. 2014. "Ice Nucleation of Bare and Sulfuric Acid-coated Mineral Dust Particles and Implication for Cloud Properties." Journal of Geophysical Research. D. (Atmospheres) 119(16):999310011.  doi:10.1002/2014JD021567
  • Lin CY, C Zhao, X Liu, NH Lin, and WN Chen. 2014. "Modelling of long-range transport of Southeast Asia biomass-burning aerosols to Taiwan and their radiative forcings over East Asia." Tellus Series B, Chemical and Physical Meteorology 66:Article No. 23733.  doi:10.3402/tellusb.v66.23733
  • Liu Z, RP Bambha, JP Pinto, T Zeng, J Boylan, M Huang, H Lei, C Zhao, S Liu, J Mao, CR Schwalm, X Shi, Y Wei, and HA Michelsen. 2014. "Toward Verifying Fossil Fuel CO2 Emissions with the CMAQ Model: Motivation, Model Description and Initial Simulation." Journal of the Air and Waste Management Association 64(4):419-435.  doi:10.1080/10962247.2013.816642
  • Liu Z, Y Wang, F Costabile, A Amoroso, C Zhao, LG Huey, R Stickel, J Liao, and T Zhu. 2014. "Evidence of Aerosols as a Media for Rapid Daytime HONO Production over China." Environmental Science & Technology 48(24):14386-14391.  doi:10.1021/es504163z
  • Yu S, R Mathur, J Pleim, D Wong, R Gilliam, K Alapaty, C Zhao, and X Liu. 2014. "Aerosol Indirect Effect on the Grid-scale Clouds in the Two-way Coupled WRF-CMAQ: Model Description, Development, Evaluation and Regional Analysis." Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 14(20):11247-11285.  doi:10.5194/acp-14-11247-2014
  • Zhao C, Z Hu, Y Qian, LYR Leung, J Huang, M Huang, J Jin, MG Flanner, R Zhang, H Wang, H Yan, Z Lu, and DG Streets. 2014. "Simulating Black Carbon and Dust and their Radiative Forcing in Seasonal Snow: A Case Study over North China with Field Campaign Measurements." Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 14(20):11475-11491.  doi:10.5194/acp-14-11475-2014


  • Zhao C, LYR Leung, RC Easter, Jr, J Hand, and J Avise. 2013. "Characterization of Speciated Aerosol Direct Radiative Forcing Over California." Journal of Geophysical Research. D. (Atmospheres) 118(5):23722388.  doi:10.1029/2012JD018364
  • Chen S, J Huang, C Zhao, Y Qian, LYR Leung, and B Yang. 2013. "Modeling the Transport and Radiative Forcing of Taklimakan Dust over the Tibetan Plateau: A case study in the summer of 2006." Journal of Geophysical Research. D. (Atmospheres) 118(2):797812. 
  • Kalenderski S, G Stenchikov, and C Zhao. 2013. "Modeling a Typical Winter-time Dust Event over the Arabian Peninsula and the Red Sea." Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 13(4):1999-2014.  doi:10.5194/acp-13-1999-2013
  • Xu Y, R Bahadur, C Zhao, and LYR Leung. 2013. "Estimating the Radiative Forcing of Carbonaceous Aerosols over California based on Satellite and Ground Observations." Journal of Geophysical Research. D. (Atmospheres) 118(19):11,14811,160.  doi:10.1002/jgrd.50835
  • Yang B, Y Qian, G Lin, LYR Leung, PJ Rasch, GJ Zhang, SA McFarlane, C Zhao, Y Zhang, H Wang, M Wang, and X Liu. 2013. "Uncertainty Quantification and Parameter Tuning in the CAM5 Zhang-McFarlane Convection Scheme and Impact of Improved Convection on the Global Circulation and Climate." Journal of Geophysical Research. D. (Atmospheres) 118(2):395-415.  doi:10.1029/2012JD018213
  • Zhang L, JF Kok, D Henze, Q Li, and C Zhao. 2013. "Improving Simulations of Fine Dust Surface Concentrations over the Western United States by Optimizing the Particle Size Distribution." Geophysical Research Letters 40(12):3270-3275.  doi:10.1002/grl.50591
  • Zhao C, S Chen, LYR Leung, Y Qian, J Kok, RA Zaveri, and J Huang. 2013. "Uncertainty in Modeling Dust Mass Balance and Radiative Forcing from Size Parameterization." Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 13:1073310753.  doi:10.5194/acp-13-10733-2013
  • Zhao C, X Liu, Y Qian, JH Yoon, Z Hou, G Lin, SA McFarlane, H Wang, B Yang, PL Ma, H Yan, and J Bao. 2013. "A Sensitivity Study of Radiative Fluxes at the Top of Atmosphere to Cloud-Microphysics and Aerosol Parameters in the Community Atmosphere Model CAM5." Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 13:1096910987.  doi:10.5194/acp-13-10969-2013


  • Gao Y, M Zhang, X Liu, and C Zhao. 2012. "Model analysis of the anthropogenic aerosol effect on clouds over East Asia." Atmospheric and Oceanic Science Letters, 5(1):1-7. 
  • Liu Z, Y Wang, D Gu, C Zhao, LG Huey, R Stickel, J Liao, M Shao, T Zhu, L Zeng, A Amoroso, F Costabile, CC Chang, and SC Liu. 2012. "Summertime photochemistry during CAREBeijing-2007: ROx budgets and O3 formation." Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 12(16):77377752.  doi:10.5194/acp-12-7737-2012
  • Zhao C, X Liu, and LYR Leung. 2012. "Impact of the Desert Dust on the Summer Monsoon System over Southwestern North America ." Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 12(8):3717-3731.  doi:10.5194/acp-12-3717-2012


  • Gao Y, X Liu, C Zhao, and M Zhang. 2011. "Emission Controls Versus Meteorological Conditions in Determining Aerosol Concentrations in Beijing during the 2008 Olympic Games." Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 11(23):12437-12451.  doi:10.5194/acp-11-12437-2011
  • Yang Q, Y Wang, C Zhao, Z Liu, WI Gustafson, Jr, and M Shao. 2011. "NOx Emission Reduction and its Effects on Ozone during the 2008 Olympic Games." Environmental Science & Technology 45(15):6404-6410.  doi:10.1021/es200675v
  • Zhao C, X Liu, LYR Leung, and SM Hagos. 2011. "Radiative impact of mineral dust on monsoon precipitation variability over West Africa ." Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 11(5):1879-1893.  doi:10.5194/acp-11-1879-2011


  • Zhao C, Y Wang, Q Yang, R Fu, D Cunnold, and Y Choi. 2010. "Impact of East Asian Summer Monsoon on the Air Quality over China: View from space." Journal of Geophysical Research. D. (Atmospheres) 115(D09301):, doi:10.1029/2009JD012745
  • Liu Z, Y Wang, D Gu, C Zhao, LG Huey, R Stickel, J Liao, M Shao, T Zhu, L Zeng, SC Liu, CC Chang, A Amoroso, and F Costabile. 2010. "Evidence of Reactive Aromatics As a Major Source of Peroxy Acetyl Nitrate over China." Environmental Science & Technology 44(18):7017-22.  doi:10.1021/es1007966
  • Zhao C, X Liu, LYR Leung, B Johnson, SA McFarlane, WI Gustafson, Jr, JD Fast, and RC Easter, Jr. 2010. "The spatial distribution of mineral dust and its shortwave radiative forcing over North Africa: Modeling sensitivities to dust emissions and aerosol size treatments ." Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 10(18):8821-8838.  doi:10.5194/acp-10-8821-2010

Selected Publications


  • Zhao C and Y Wang.  2009.    "Assimilated  Inversion of NOx  Emissions over East Asia  Using OMI NO2 Column  Measurements."  Geophysical Research Letters 36:L06805, doi:10.1029/2008GL037123.
  • Zhao C, Y Wang, and T Zeng .  2009 .    "East China  Plains: A  'Basin' of  Ozone  Pollution."  Environmental Science & Technology 43(6):  1911-1915.
  • Zhao C, Y.Wang, T Zeng, and Y Choi.  2009. "Impact of  Convective  Transport and  Lightning NOx  Production over North America: Dependence on  Cumulus  Parameterizations."  Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 9:2289-2317.

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