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Marwan Katurji

2017: Dr Marwan Katurji, University of Canterbury, Department of Geography, has been awarded a Rutherford Discovery Fellowship for research entitled: 'The invisible realm of atmospheric coherent turbulent structures: Resolving their dynamics and interaction with Earth's surface'.


Dr Marwan Katurji received his PhD from the University of Canterbury and specialises in atmospheric boundary-layer science, a branch of meteorology that aims to understand how the lower atmosphere interacts with Earth’s surfaces. Marwan’s research interest revolves around measuring, modelling, simulating and analysing surface-atmospheric energy and moisture flux that control Earth’s microclimates. Before his PhD, Marwan’s undergraduate and graduate academic background was in mechanical engineering, during which his core academic training was in thermal and fluid sciences at the American University of Beirut. He is particularly interested in developing new approaches to tackle fundamental research questions in the field of atmospheric boundary-layer turbulence that leverages on a multidisciplinary approach of engineering and science. Marwan has undertaken numerous research projects in New Zealand, Antarctica, and the United States and has developed peer reviewed publications contributing to the fields of numerical weather and climate modelling, agricultural and forest meteorology, renewable wind energy and mountain meteorology.

Research summary

Global, regional, and local climate and weather models provide vital information to keep our communities safe from  weather hazards, maintain high water and energy efficiency for food production and predict our renewable energy resource. It is therefore important to develop reliable and accurate models that give better estimates of surface-atmosphere thermodynamic fluxes, which are essential components for accurate surface wind, temperature and humidity predictions that define our microclimates. The dynamics of the lowest 2 kms of Earth’s atmosphere, or the atmospheric boundary-layer, are poorly represented in weather and climate models due to inadequate representation of process  such as turbulence,  or rapid air fluctuations controlling energy and moisture exchanges at the surface-atmosphere interface. This lack of knowledge is mainly due to the complex and unpredictable nature of turbulence and the limitations of our observational systems that hinder a comprehensive dynamic representation of the physical processes, which results in poor model performance. This research programme will address the principles behind surface-atmosphere interactions by critically reassessing current measurement techniques and designing new measurement methods for near-surface atmospheric turbulence, thereby testing and developing both existing and new theoretical formulations of land-atmosphere turbulent interactions. It is critical to develop a comprehensive approach to investigating coherent turbulence structures that involves tracking their downward propagation towards the surface, and then observing their impacts on surface temperature and velocity fields. Our approach will be based on utilising state-of-the-art far- infrared cameras employed in field experiments and lab-based physical models to develop a new improved spatial model of surface-atmospheric turbulent interactions.