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Atmospheric Science & Global Change

Staff information

Heng Xiao

Earth Systems Analysis & Modeling
Earth Scientist
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
PO Box 999
MSIN: K9-24
Richland, WA 99352


I am interested in understanding atmospheric boundary layer turbulence and moist convection and their role in Earth's climate system. I use numerical modeling tools ranging from large–eddy simulations (LESs) to global climate models (GCMs).

Research Interests

  • Climate modeling
  • tropical climate dynamics, coupled atmosphere-ocean-land interactions
  • numerical simulation, understanding and parameterization of moist convection and planetary boundary layer

Education and Credentials

  • Ph.D., Atmospheric Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, California
  • M.Sc., Atmospheric Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, California
  • B.Sc., Atmospheric Physics, Nanjing University, Nanjing, China

Affiliations and Professional Service

  • American Geophysical Union
  • American Meteorological Society

PNNL Publications


  • Hagos S.M., Z. Feng, R.S. Plant, R.A. Houze, and H. Xiao. 2018. "A stochastic framework for modeling the population dynamics of convective clouds." Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems 10, no. 2:448-465. PNNL-SA-130047. doi:10.1002/2017MS001214


  • Neggers R.A., A. Ackerman, W.M. Angevine, E. Bazile, I. Beau, P. Blossey, and I. Boutle, et al. 2017. "Single-column model simulations of subtropical marine boundary-layer cloud transitions under weakening inversions." Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems 9, no. 6:2385–2412. PNNL-SA-129345. doi:10.1002/2017MS001064
  • Yun Y., J. Fan, H. Xiao, G. Zhang, S.J. Ghan, K. Xu, and P. Ma, et al. 2017. "Assessing the Resolution Adaptability of the Zhang-McFarlane Cumulus Parameterization with Spatial and Temporal Averaging." Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems 9, no. 7:2753-2770. PNNL-SA-125729. doi:10.1002/2017MS001035


  • Wang M., V.E. Larson, S.J. Ghan, M. Ovchinnikov, D. Schanen, H. Xiao, and X. Liu, et al. 2015. "A Multiscale Modeling Framework Model (Superparameterized CAM5) with a Higher-Order Turbulence Closure: Model Description and Low-Cloud Simulations." Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems 7, no. 2:484-509. PNNL-SA-104723. doi:10.1002/2014MS000375
  • Xiao H., S. Endo, M. Wong, W. Skamarock, J.B. Klemp, J.D. Fast, and W.I. Gustafson, et al. 2015. "Modifications to WRF’s dynamical core to improve the treatment of moisture for large--eddy simulations." Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems 7, no. 4:1627-1642. PNNL-SA-112067. doi:10.1002/2015MS000532
  • Xiao H., W.I. Gustafson, S.M. Hagos, C. Wu, and H. Wan. 2015. "Resolution-dependent behavior of subgrid-scale vertical transport in the Zhang-McFarlane convection parameterization." Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems 7, no. 2:537-550. PNNL-SA-103534. doi:10.1002/2014MS000356


  • Fletcher J.K., C.S. Bretherton, H. Xiao, R.N. Sun, and J. Han. 2014. "Improving Subtropical Boundary Layer Cloudiness in the 2011 NCEP GFS." Geoscientific Model Development 7, no. 5:2107–2120. PNNL-SA-105699. doi:10.5194/gmd-7-2107-2014
  • Martini M., W.I. Gustafson, Q. Yang, and H. Xiao. 2014. "Impact of Resolution on Simulation of Closed Mesoscale Cellular Convection Identified by Dynamically Guided Watershed Segmentation." Journal of Geophysical Research. D. (Atmospheres) 119, no. 22:12,674–12,688. PNNL-SA-102353. doi:10.1002/2014JD021962
  • Xiao H., C. Mechoso, R. Sun, J. Han, H.L. Pan, S. Park, and C. Hannay, et al. 2014. "Diagnosis of the Marine Low Cloud Simulation in the NCAR Community Earth System Model (CESM) and the NCEP Global Forecast System (GFS)-Modular Ocean Model v4 (MOM4) coupled model." Climate Dynamics 43, no. 3-4:737-752. PNNL-SA-90541. doi:10.1007/s00382-014-2067-y
  • Xiao H., W.I. Gustafson, and H. Wang. 2014. "Impact of subgrid-scale radiative heating variability on the stratocumulus-to-trade cumulus transition in climate models." Journal of Geophysical Research. D. (Atmospheres) 119, no. 7:4192–4203. PNNL-SA-98750. doi:10.1002/2013JD020999


  • Gustafson W.I., P. Ma, H. Xiao, B. Singh, P.J. Rasch, and J.D. Fast. 2013. "The Separate Physics and Dynamics Experiment (SPADE) framework for determining resolution awareness: A case study of microphysics." Journal of Geophysical Research. D. (Atmospheres) 118, no. 16:9258-9276. PNNL-SA-92473. doi:10.1002/jgrd.50711
  • Ma H., C. Mechoso, Y. Xue, H. Xiao, D. Neelin, and X. Ji. 2013. "On the connection between continental-scale land surface processes and the tropical climate in a coupled ocean-atmosphere-land system." Journal of Climate 26, no. 22:9006-9025. PNNL-SA-92105. doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00819.1
  • Ma H., H. Xiao, C. Mechoso, and Y. Xue. 2013. "Sensitivity of global tropical climate to land surface processes: Mean state and interannual variability." Journal of Climate 26, no. 5:1818-1837. PNNL-SA-91385. doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00142.1
  • Yue Q., B. Kahn, H. Xiao, M. Schreier, E.J. Fetzer, J. Teixeira, and K. Suselj. 2013. "Transitions of cloud-topped marine boundary layers characterized by AIRS, MODIS, and a large eddy simulation model." Journal of Geophysical Research. D. (Atmospheres) 118, no. 15:8598-8611. PNNL-SA-98572. doi:10.1002/jgrd.50676

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