Regional Climate Modeling

climate equipment in pasture

Climate models are essential tools to investigate the relationships between climate, life and society.

Sustainable human existence is intimately linked to Earth’s climate through interactions between the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, the biosphere, and the lithosphere. These interactions regulate heat and moisture, among other variables, which in turn modulate weather patterns, precipitation and the climate. These interactions are crucial for our survival; however, some of them are not completely understood.

For example, the years 2015, 2016, and 2017 have been the hottest years on record and the Arctic sea ice is declining much faster than any predictions. In addition, drought continues to plague parts of our planet, including Southern California, which has resulted on an unprecedented increase in groundwater usage.

Furthermore, climate modeling is not just about climate change. It also helps understand how processes operate at Earth’s surface. Deforestation, wildfires, and other forms of changes that shape the surface and influence basic aspects of our civilization can also be explored with climate models.

However, the science behind these phenomena and their effects on the regional economy and resilience remains poorly understood, in part because of the many remaining open questions related to how Earth’s climate system responds to natural and anthropogenic drivers. Understanding these phenomena is essential for establishing appropriate mitigation and adaptation alternatives to climate oscillations and change.

The Department of Geography at SDSU addresses climate sciences with a focus on regional weather, extreme events, and anthropogenic climate change from a modeling perspective. Our goal is to translate projections of future climate impacts into practical decisions.

We accomplish this by combining observations, remote-sensing data, and state-of-the-art numerical models and developing interdisciplinary research projects. These projects help answer the questions at hand, while training graduate students to think beyond disciplinary boundaries.

We collaborate with local government authorities to improve our understanding of the impacts of climate variability and changes in San Diego. Our Faculty are part of the SDSU Center for Climate and Sustainability Studies Leave geography site that coordinates climate research across different departments.

We offer multiple courses in climate and water resources (listed below), and a Master’s degree in Watershed Science for those wanting to take their studies further. Our faculty supervise PhD students undertaking research in climate, weather, and climate change through our Joint Doctoral Program with UC Santa Barbara.


Surface-induced Forcing and Decadal Variability and Change of the East Asian Climate, Surface Hydrology and Agriculture

This project is investigating the role of natural and anthropogenic land cover changes on the climate of East Asia, in particular precipitation and snow cover changes.

Simulating the Southern California’s Terrestrial Water Storage from the Perspective of Regional Climate Model

The main goal of this project is to implement a regional model capable of simulating the temporal and spatial variability of groundwater in Southern California.

Improving the CalEnviroScreen Score at the US-Mexico Border

We are employing obsevational, GIS and modeling data to map sources of air pollution emissions in Baja California near the US Mexico border that could affect air quality for border communities.


Fernando De Sales

Fernando De Sales
Assistant Professor


The composition, structure, and circulation of the atmosphere, including elementary theory of storms and other weather disturbances.

Physical processes, human responses, and mitigation strategies related to atmospheric hazards, including blizzards, wind storms, severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes, heat waves, oods, and drought.

Hydrological processes to include precipitation, surface water, groundwater, water quality, and ecohydrology. Impact of human activities on water resources.

Global climate system and feedbacks with biosphere. Past climates and potential future changes, including changes in greenhouse gases, ozone depletion and acid rain. Predictions and uncertainty regarding changes including natural and anthropogenic causes.

Regional distributions of Earth’s climates and basic principles governing atmospheric processes that control global distributions of climate types.

Hydrologic processes and regimes, how these are affected by environmental change and how hydrologic process and regimes affect patterns of environmental change. Processes operating at global, regional, and local scales are examined, including land-use/ land-cover change and climate change.

Theory and techniques in watershed analysis. Use of GIS and statistical programming for analyses of geomorphology, hydrology, and water quality data.

Advanced special topics in geography. May be repeated with new content. See Class Schedule for specific content.

Spatial analytic techniques from image processing, remote sensing, geographic information systems, cartography or quantitative methods. May be repeated with new content. See Class Schedule for specific content.