Scottish Alliance for Geoscience, Environment and Society

Ioana Colfescu

Research interests:

The main focus of my research is improving the understanding of the key processes determining Earth’s climate and its variability from seasonal to multidecadal timescales, with, in particular, an interest in separating the role of anthropogenic forcing from natural climate variability in the North Atlantic.
My responsibilities include: use machine learning techniques to analyze and understand weather and climate hazards; contribute to the programs on climate and high impact weather; participate in NCAS activities on monitoring atmospheric emissions of both anthropogenic and natural origin or understand dynamics of mountain waves.
I make use of a variety of tools (from global to regional models and observations) and analysis methods. I teach, as well as develop teaching materials, for NCAS training courses, I participate in field campaigns and, occasionally, conduct outreach activities (e.g., live interview on California for Paul Hudson’s BBC show). Complementary to my research I have a keen interest in data analysis methods for climate and weather and I recently obtained an online “Data Science for Research” certification from Harvard University.

Career history:

In 2020 I was appointed an Honorary Fellow for the College of Science and Engineering, the University of Edinburgh where I am aiming to develop collaborations with scientists at the School of GeoSciences aimed to advance the understanding of the mechanisms driving climate change and variability as well as to better mitigate its impacts. I am also planning to develop collaborations with the Bayes Centre, the University of Edinburgh to use machine learning methods for weather and climate.
In 2020, I also became a Senior Research Scientist (Climate and Weather Model Data Analysis) at the National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS), University of Leeds. Previous to that I worked as a Research Scientist for NCAS between 2016 and 2020 and I worked as a Post-doctoral research assistant for the University of Edinburgh, School of GeoScience for a year and a half starting in 2015. I have a strong mathematical background rooted in my BSc and MSc in Mathematics, and a Ph.D. in Climate Dynamics from George Mason University in Virginia, USA.

Active research projects:

I am involved in a number of activities:
o Scientific analysis for understanding the mechanisms of climate variability and change in the North Atlantic Sector
o Extreme events attribution
o Worked as a member of the NCAS team engaged in hazardous weather and climate research and field work (e.g., AEOG, aimed to obtain and analyse background measurements of pollutants emissions from marine platforms in the North Sea; CMIP5 data analysis for understanding the North Atlantic climate system)
o Contributed to NCAS education, training, and mentoring activities
o Communicated research outputs by presenting at project meetings and international conferences, as well as by writing papers
o Conducted field research and work (e.g., mission scientist aboard the NCAS Research Aircraft; activity leader for NCAS schools; member of the NCAS expedition to Ben Nevis to set-up weather instruments)

Recent publications:

Colfescu, I., J. Klemp, S. Mobbs, M. Bollasina, and R. Burton, 2021: Mechanisms of gravity waves across the Snaefellsnes Peninsula (Iceland): a WRF sensitivity study. Mon. Wea. Rev. (In production as of January 2021).
Wilde, S. E., Dominutti, P. A., Andrews, S. J., Bauguitte, S. J.-B., Burton, R. R., Colfescu, et al., 2020: Speciation of VOC emissions related to offshore North Sea oil and gas production, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss.,
Serafin, S., M. Rotach, M. Arpagaus, M., I. Colfescu I., et al., 2020: Multi-scale transport and exchange processes in the atmosphere over mountains, Programme and experiment. Innsbruck University Press, ISBN 978-3-99106-003-1.
Colfescu, I., and E. K. Schneider, 2020: Decomposition of the Atlantic multidecadal variability in a historical climate simulation. J. Climate, 33, 4229-4254,

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