Cliff Mass:  Biographical Sketch

Cliff Mass went to Cornell University for his undergraduate education where he majored in physics.  During that time we worked with Astronomer Carl Sagan on a model of the Martian atmosphere and was active in the Cornell University Senate.

After Cornell he entered the Ph.D. program at the University of Washington.  During the first few summers he worked with climatologist Stephen Schneider on the influence of volcanic eruptions, solar variations, and CO2 on climate.  Although his Ph.D. was on African wave disturbances, the forerunners of tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic, he caught the Northwest weather bug as a graduate student and began gathering information on the Puget Sound convergence zone and other local weather features.

Leaving the UW, he joined the faculty of the Meteorology Department at the University of Maryland, where he taught synoptic meteorology and weather prediction and worked on a variety of research topics, from Northwest weather circulations and high-resolution modeling, to the climatic implications of the Mount St. Helens eruption.

When an opening became available at the University of Washington, he moved back to Seattle as an assistant professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences.   During the next few decades, Cliff and his students have systematically studied the weather of the western U.S., completing over seventy papers on West Coast phenomena as varied as orographic precipitation, coastal surges, the Catalina Eddy, and the Puget Sound convergence zone, to onshore pushes, downslope windstorms, and various local gap winds.  His group has written numerous papers on storm and frontal structure and evolution across the U.S., including the application of high-resolution modeling.  Numerical simulation has been a key tool for his group, which now runs the most extensive local high-resolution prediction system in the United States.   For a number of years he has been chief scientist of the Northwest Modeling Consortium, a group that facilitates state-of-the-art prediction over the U.S., and is active in improving the Weather, Research, and Forecasting (WRF) model.  Based on a strong interest in improving operational weather prediction, he has written a number of papers examining the strengths and weaknesses of the National Weather Service.

Cliff has been involved in a number of other initiatives, including the acquisition of coastal radar on the Washington coast, improving the infrastructure of the National Weather Service, the use of smartphone pressure observations for weather prediction, and the improvement of K-12 math education.  He is the author of the 2008 book “The Weather of the Pacific Northwest” and broadcasts a weekly weather information segment on KPLU, a local public radio station.   

Now a full professor at the UW, he is a fellow of the American Meteorological Society, has been an editor of a number of meteorological journals,is a member of the Washington State Academy of Sciences, and has served as a member of a number of National Academy committees.  He is currently a member of the WRF Research Applications Board and a cochair of the AMS Board on Communication.