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Karthik Balaguru

Karthik Balaguru

Climate Physics Educational Development
Post Doctorate RA A
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
PO Box 999
MSIN: K9-24
Richland, WA 99352


My research focuses on the dynamics of the upper ocean and air-sea interaction processes with a special emphasis on the tropics. The Barrier Layer (BL) phenomenon in the western tropical Atlantic formed the central theme of my doctoral thesis. Initially I studied the role of Amazon River discharge and the subduction of sub-tropical salinity maxima waters on the formation mechanism of BLs using the NCAR climate model CCSM. Subsequently, I studied how these BLs modulate the surface ocean temperature response to Tropical Cyclone induced mixing using a regional coupled model and observational data. I extended this study further during my postdoctoral period and performed a global analysis of the impacts of BLs on Tropical Cyclone intensification, which was published in PNAS. Following this, I examined the relative significance of various oceanic features in the interannual variability of the Northeast Pacific hurricane activity. I'm currently looking into how hurricanes may interact with each other through the ocean and the effect of changes in large-scale environmental parameters on the post-monsoon Bay of Bengal Tropical Cyclone activity.

Besides the above, I'm also currently involved in a multi-lab project aimed at evaluating the ability of the various modeling approaches to simulate mesoscale activity in the ocean. For this, I'm performing idealized numerical simulations using the ROMS model. Another current topic of research is the impact of global warming induced shutdown of convection on the marine ecosystems in the Labrador Sea.

Research Interests

  • Tropical air-sea interaction.
  • Climate change and their impacts on marine eco-systems.
  • Statistical data analysis techniques.

Education and Credentials

  • B.Tech - Ocean Engineering (Minor: Financial Management), Indian Institute of Technology - Madras (2005).
  • M.Tech - Ocean Engineering (Specialization: Offshore structures), Indian Institute of Technology - Madras (2006).
  • Ph.D - Physical Oceanography, Texas A&M University (2011).

PNNL Publications


  • Balaguru K, P Chang, R Saravanan, and CJ Jang. 2012. "The Barrier Layer of the Atlantic Warmpool: Formation Mechanism and Influence on the Mean Climate." Tellus Series A. Dynamic Meteorology and Oceanography 64:Article No. 18162.  doi:10.3402/tellusa.v64i0.18162
  • Balaguru K, P Chang, R Saravanan, LYR Leung, Z Xu, M Li, and J Hsieh. 2012. "Ocean Barrier Layers' Effect on Tropical Cyclone Intensification." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 109(36):14343-14347.  doi:10.1073/pnas.1201364109

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