Andrew Carleton


Dr. Carleton is a Professor in Physical Geography, with specific research and teaching activities in Climatology. He is a graduate of the University of Adelaide (Australia), where he did both his Bachelor’s and Masters Degrees in Geography, and also the University of Colorado (Ph.D.). Dr. Carleton grew up in several British Commonwealth countries, including Canada, England, and Australia, before moving to the U.S. in 1978, which probably explains his accent! He was trained both by physical geographers and also meteorologists at Adelaide and Boulder, giving him a unique perspective on the study of climate. He has been at Penn State since 1994, and a (full) Professor since 1995. In addition to his appointment in Geography, Dr. Carleton is an active Faculty Associate with the EMS’s Earth and Environmental Systems Institute (EESI). He is the author of a monograph (Carleton, A.M., 1991. Satellite Remote Sensing in Climatology. Belhaven Press, London), and co-author of another (Barry, R.G. and Carleton, A.M., 2001. Synoptic and Dynamic Climatology. Routledge Publishing, London and New York). In addition, Dr. Carleton has authored a number of chapters in edited books on climatology, polar regions, and environmental science.

Dr. Carleton’s research interests cover the field of Climatology (now called Climate Science) and have involved publications in the following areas over the past 25 years or so: Antarctic meteorology and climatology; Extratropical cyclone climatologies; Climatology of the Southern Hemisphere; Climatology of the U.S. Southwest’s summer “monsoon”; Inter-annual (year-to-year) climate variations and their “causes” (El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), North Atlantic Oscillation, the Southern Annular Mode (SAM), etc.); Recent and contemporary climate changes; Human impacts on the climate. Several themes connect all these different areas of Dr. Carleton’s research, as follows: (1) Applications of satellite data to studying the climate; (2) Observations-based investigations of climate and climate variations; (3) Climatic perspectives through the construct of synoptic (pressure system) and dynamic (atmospheric general circulation) phenomena; (4) Climate operating on the scale of a region or sub-region; and (5) Explanations of climate relying on the basic physical processes, as supported by statistical analysis. These perspectives comprise much of the modern study of Climate Dynamics — a scary-sounding term that really just means how the climate works, and why!

Dr. Carleton’s teaching activities include a range of undergraduate courses in Climatology, from the introductory course on the subject (G110 Climates of the World), to the mid-level intensive writing course in Climate Dynamics (G310W Global Climates), through the upper-division course that presents the study of climate using satellite-based observations (G417 Satellite Climatology). In addition, Dr. Carleton teaches a graduate-level seminar (G503) Human Impacts on Climate, that has broader appeal to nature-society geographers as well as physical scientists (physical geographers, meteorologists, ecologists, etc.).

Current research interests and activities

Dr. Carleton has 3 current areas of active research and publication, 2 of which are examples of human impacts on climate (jet airplane condensation trails, or contrails; land-cover modifications of deforestation and agriculture in the Midwest U.S. and their effects on summertime precipitation development), with the 3rd area involving how the ocean, sea ice and atmosphere around Antarctica interact to produce a small-scale storm system known as a “polar low”. All 3 research areas have received federal funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), with 1 (jet contrails) currently funded. The 3 areas are as follows: 

  1. The role of jet airplane condensation trails (contrails) on the climate at Earth’s surface. The current work is supported by a 3-year NSF grant to study specifically how knowledge of the atmospheric conditions favorable to contrail formation in different sub-regions of the U.S. can be used to better predict where contrails are likely to form in near-real time (6-30 hour timescales). 
  2. Midwest U.S. land surface-deep convection (precipitation) interactions in the warm season period. This research is showing that the many long yet narrow boundaries between cropped areas and remnant forest in the Corn Belt can enhance where and when precipitation occurs. The “when” is conditioned by the atmospheric synoptic circulation. Ongoing work is looking at how soil moisture gradients between wet and dry soils in the Corn Belt also may affect deep convective activity.
  3. Polar lows and their associations with Antarctic sea-ice-air interactions and Southern Hemisphere climatic teleconnections. This work, undertaken with colleagues at Paris’ (France) Ecole Polytechnique, has shown that the larger-scale patterns (climatology!) of polar low storms are somewhat predictable if one knows the spatial fields of upper-ocean temperature, sea-ice extent, near-surface winds and temperature, and mid-troposphere temperature. These fields themselves are related to the large-scale teleconnection patterns such as ENSO and SAM. Currently, we are investigating recent case study years to see how similar or different the polar low associations are with climatology in those individual years.

Research Interests

  • satellite climatology
  • synoptic climatology
  • climate dynamics
  • human impacts on climate
  • Antarctica


  • Ph.D., 1982, Geography, University of Colorado-Boulder (adviser: Roger G. Barry)
  • M.A., 1981, Geography, University of Adelaide, Australia (adviser: Peter J. Lamb)
  • B.A. Hons. 1977, Geography, University of Adelaide, Australia
  • B.A. Ord., 1976, Geography, University of Adelaide, Australia


Jase Bernhardt, M.S. (2013), Ph.D. (2016-- anticipated)

Adrienne Tucker, M.S. (2015)

Armand Silva, M.S. (2009)

Corene Matyas, Ph.D. (2005)

Rebecca Foley-Smith, M.S. (2004)

Steve Curran, M.S. (2005)

Jason Allard, Ph.D. (2002)

Jimmy Adegoke, Ph.D. (2000)

Jason Allard, M.S. (1997)

David L. Arnold, Ph.D., Indiana University (1994)

David J. Travis, Ph.D., Indiana University, (1994)

Courses Taught

  • GEOG 110
  • GEOG 310W
  • GEOG 417
  • GEOG 510
  • GEOG 530


  • 2015  Bracegirdle, T.J., N. Bertler, A.M. Carleton, Q. Ding, C.J. Fogwill and J.C. Fyfe,  A multi-disciplinary perspective on climate model evaluation for Antarctica.  Bulletin, American Meteorological Society: in press.
  • 2015 Rojo, M., C. Claud, P-E Mallet, G. Noer, A.M. Carleton, and M. Vicomte,  Polar- low tracks over the Nordic seas: A 14-winter climatic analysis, Tellus: in press.
  • 2015    Carleton, A.M., A.D. Silva, J. Bernhardt, J. Vanderberg, and D.J. Travis,  Sub-region scale retro-prediction of contrail “outbreaks”, utilizing their synoptic climatology.  Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology: in press (available on-line, doi: 10.1175/JAMC-D-14-0186.1).
  • 2015    Mayewski, P.A., T. Bracegirdle, I. Goodwin, D. Schneider, N.A.N. Bertler, S. Birkel, A.M. Carleton, M.H. England, J-H Kang, A. Khan, J. Russell, J. Turner, and I. Velicogna,  Potential for Southern Hemisphere climate surprises.  Journal of Quaternary Science, 30(5), 391-395.  doi: 10.1002/jqs.2794.
  • 2014      Mahmood, R., R.A. Pielke Sr., K.G. Hubbard, D. Niyogi, P.A. Dirmeyer, C.         McAlpine, A.M. Carleton, R. Hale, S. Gameda, A. Beltrán-Prezekurat, B. Baker, R. McNider, D.R Legates, M. Shepherd, J. Du, P.D. Blanken, O.W. Frauenfeld, U.S. Nair, and S. Fall,  Review, Land cover changes and their biogeophysical effects on climate.  International Journal of Climatology, 34: 929-953. (on-line, doi: 10.1002/joc.3736).
  • 2014    Blanford, J.L., J. Bernhardt, A. Savalyev, G. Wong-Parodi, A.M. Carleton, D.W. Titley, and A.M. MacEachren,  Tweeting and tornadoes.  ISCRAM 2014 Conference Proceedings (refereed): in press.
  • 2013      Carleton, A.M., A.D. Silva, M.S. Aghazarian, J. Bernhardt, D.J. Travis, and J. Allard,  Mid-season climate diagnostics of jet contrail “outbreaks”, and implications for eastern U.S. sky cover trends.  Climate Research, 56: 209-230.
  • 2013      Carleton, A.M., and D.J. Travis,  Aviation-contrail impacts on climate and climate change: A ready-to-wear research mantle for geographers.  The Professional Geographer, 65 (3): 421-432.
  • 2012      Loveland, T., R. Mahmood, T. Patel-Weynand, K. Karstensen, K. Beckendorf, N. Bliss, and A.M. Carleton,  National Climate Assessment Technical Report on the Impacts of Climate and Land Use and Land Cover Change.  USGS Open-File, Report 2012-1155, U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, 87pp.
  • 2010    Mahmood, R., R.A. Pielke Sr., K.G. Hubbard, D. Niyogi, G. Bonan, P. Lawrence, R. McNider, C. McAlpine, A. Etter, S. Gameda, B. Qian, A.M. Carleton,  A. Beltrán-Prezekurat, T. Chase, A.I. Quintanar, J.O. Adegoke, S. Vezhapparambu, G. Connor, S. Asefi, E. Sertel, D.R Legates, Y. Wu, R. Hale, O.W. Frauenfeld, A. Watts, M. Shepherd, C. Mitra, V.G. Anantharaj, S. Fall, R. Lund, A. Nordfelt, P. Blanken, J. Du, H-I Chang, R. Leeper, U.S. Nair, S. Dobler, R. Deo, and J. Syktus,  Impacts of land use land cover change on climate, and future research priorities.  Bulletin, American Meteorological Society, 91: 37-46. 
  • 2010    Allard, J., and A.M. Carleton, Mesoscale associations between Midwest land surface properties and convective cloud development in the warm season. Physical Geography, 31, 107-136.
  • 2010    Matyas, C., and A.M. Carleton, Surface radar-derived convective rainfall associations with Midwest U.S. land surface conditions in summer seasons 1999 and 2000. Theoretical and Applied Climatology, 99, 315-330.
  • 2009    Claud, C., Carleton, A.M., Duchiron, B., and P. Terray, Southern Hemisphere winter cold-air mesocyclones: Climatic environments and associations with teleconnections. Climate Dynamics: 33, 383-408.
  • 2009    Trouet, V., Taylor, A.H., Carleton, A.M., and C.N. Skinner, Interannual variations in fire weather, fire extent, and synoptic-scale circulation patterns in northern California and Oregon. Theoretical and Applied Climatology: 95, 349-360.
  • 2009    Claud, C., Carleton, A.M., Duchiron, B., and P. Terray, Atmospheric and upper ocean environments of Southern Ocean polar mesocyclones in the transition seasons, and associations with teleconnections. Journal of Geophysical Research—Atmospheres, 114 (D23104), doi: 10.1029/2009JD011995, 2009.
  • 2008    Carleton, A.M., D.L. Arnold, D.J. Travis, S. Curran, and J.O. Adegoke, Synoptic circulation and land surface influences on convection in the Midwest U.S. “Corn Belt” during the summers of 1999 and 2000. Part I: Composite synoptic environments. Journal of Climate, 21: 3389-3415.
  • 2008    Carleton, A.M., D.J. Travis, J.O. Adegoke, D.L. Arnold, and S. Curran, Synoptic circulation and land surface influences on convection in the Midwest U.S. “Corn Belt” during the summers of 1999 and 2000. Part II: Role of vegetation boundaries. Journal of Climate, 21: 3617-3641.
  • 2008     Carleton, A.M., D.J. Travis, K. Master, and S. Vezhapparambu, Composite atmospheric environments of jet contrail outbreaks for the United States. Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, 47: 641-667.
  • 2007    Travis, D., Carleton, A.M., Johnson, J.S. and DeGrand, J.Q. U.S. jet contrail frequency changes: Influence of jet aircraft flight activity and atmospheric conditions. International Journal of Climatology, 27: 621-632.
  • 2007    Adegoke, J.O., R.A. Pielke, Sr. and A.M. Carleton. Observational and modeling studies of the impacts of agriculture-related land use change on planetary boundary layer processes in the central U.S. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 142 (2-4): 203-215.
  • 2006    Trouet, V., Taylor, A.H., Carleton, A.M., and Skinner, C.N. Fire-climate interactions in forests of the American Pacific Coast. Geophysical Research Letters, 33:18704, doi:10.1029/2006GL027502.
  • 2005    Turner, J., Colwell, S.R., Marshall, G.J., Lachlan-Cope, T.A., Carleton, A.M., Jones, P.D. Logan, V., Reid, P.A., & Iagovkina S. Antarctic climate change during the last 50 years. International Journal of Climatology, 25: 279-294.
  • 2004    Travis, D.J, Carleton, A.M. and Lauritsen R. Regional variations in U.S. diurnal temperature range for the 11-14 September 2001 aircraft groundings: Evidence of jet contrail influence on climate. Journal of Climate, 17: 1123-1134.
  • 2004    Turner, J., Colwell, S.R., Marshall, G.J., Lachlan-Cope, T.A., Carleton, A.M., Jones, P.D. Logan, V., Reid, P.A., & Iagovkina S. The SCAR-READER Project: Toward a high-quality database of mean Antarctic meteorological observations. Journal of Climate, 17: 2890-2898.
  • 2003    Carleton, A.M. Atmospheric teleconnections involving the Southern Ocean. Journal of Geophysical Research -- Oceans (special issue on Southern Ocean-Climate Interactions), 108(C4). 8080,doi: 10. 1029 / 2000JC000379, 2003.
  • 2002    Travis, D.J., Carleton, A.M. and Lauritsen, R.G.. Contrails reduce daily temperature range. Nature, 418: 601.
  • 2002    Adegoke, J. and Carleton, A.M. Relations between soil moisture and satellite vegetation indices in the U.S. Corn Belt. Journal of Hydrometeorology, 3:395-405
  • 2001    Carleton, A.M., Adegoke, J., Allard, J., Arnold, D.L. and Travis, D.J. Summer season land cover-convective cloud associations for the Midwest U.S. “Corn Belt.” Geophysical Research Letters, 28: 1679-1682.
  • 2000    DeGrand, J., Carleton, A.M., Travis, D.J. and Lamb, P.J. A satellite-based climatic description of jet aircraft contrails and associations with atmospheric conditions, 1977-79. Journal of Applied Meteorology, 39: 1434-1459.
  • 1999    Carleton, A.M. Methodology in climatology. Annals, Association of American Geographers, 89 (4): 713-735.
  • 1998    Carleton, A.M., John G. and Welsch, R. Interannual variations and regionality of Antarctic sea ice - temperature associations. Annals of Glaciology, 27: 403-408.
  • 1997    Carleton, A.M. and Song, Y. Synoptic climatology and intrahemispheric associations of cold air mesocyclones in the Australasian sector. Journal of Geophysical Research (Atmospheres), 102: 13,873-13,887.
  • 1997    Travis, D.J., Carleton A.M. and Changnon, S.A. An empirical model to predict widespread occurrences of contrails. Journal of Applied Meteorology, 36: 1211-1220.
  • 1996    Carleton, A.M. Satellite climatological aspects of cold air mesocyclones in the Arctic and Antarctic. Global Atmosphere-Ocean System (formerly Air-Sea Interactions), 5: 1-42.
  • 1995    Carleton, A.M. On the interpretation and classification of mesoscale cyclones from satellite IR imagery. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 16: 2457-2485.
  • 1995    Carleton, A.M. and O’Neal, M. Satellite-derived land surface climate “signal” for the Midwest U.S.A. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 16: 3195-3202.
  • 1995    Carleton, A.M., McMurdie, L., Katsaros, K.B., Zhao, H., Mognard, N. and Claud, C. Satellite-derived features and associated atmospheric environments of Southern Ocean mesocyclone events. Global Atmosphere-Ocean System, 3: 209-248.
  • 1994    Carleton, A.M., Jelinski, D., Travis, D., Arnold, D., Brinegar, R., and Easterling, D. Climatic-scale vegetation - cloud interactions during drought using satellite data. International Journal of Climatology, 14: 593-623.
  • 1993    Carleton, A.M. and Fitch, M. Synoptic aspects of Antarctic mesocyclones. Journal of Geophysical Research, 98: 12,997-13,018.
  • 1990    Carleton, A.M. and Carpenter, D. Satellite climatology of “polar lows” and broadscale climatic associations for the Southern Hemisphere. International Journal of Climatology, 10: 219-246.
  • 1990    Carleton, A.M., Carpenter, D., and Weser, P.J. Mechanisms of interannual variability of the Southwest U.S. summer rainfall maximum. Journal of Climate, 3: 999-1015.
  • 1989    Carleton, A.M. Antarctic sea-ice relationships with indices of the atmospheric circulation of the Southern Hemisphere. Climate Dynamics, 3: 207-220.
  • 1988    Carleton, A.M. Meridional transport of eddy sensible heat in winters marked by extremes of the North Atlantic Oscillation, 1948/49-1979/80. Journal of Climate, 1: 212-223.
  • 1988    Carleton, A.M. and Whalley, D. Eddy transport of sensible heat and the life-history of synoptic systems: a statistical analysis for the Southern Hemisphere winter. Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics, 38: 140-152.
  • 1988    Carleton, A.M. Sea ice - atmosphere signal of the Southern Oscillation in the Weddell Sea, Antarctica. Journal of Climate, 1: 379-388.
  • 1987    Carleton, A.M. Satellite-derived attributes of cloud vortex systems and their application to climate studies. Remote Sensing of Environment, 22: 271-296.  
  • 1987    Carleton, A.M. Summer circulation climate of the American Southwest, 1945-1984. Annals, Association of American Geographers, 77: 619-634.
  • 1986    Carleton, A.M. and Lamb, P.J. Jet contrails and cirrus cloud: a feasibility study employing high resolution satellite imagery. Bulletin, American Meteorological Society, 67: 301-309.
  • 1986    Carleton, A.M. Synoptic-dynamic character of “bursts” and “breaks” in the Southwest U.S. summer precipitation singularity. (International) Journal of Climatology, 6: 605-623.
  • 1985    Carleton, A.M. Synoptic cryosphere-atmosphere interactions in the Northern Hemisphere from DMSP image analysis. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 6: 239-261.
  • 1985    Carleton, A.M. Satellite climatological aspects of the “polar low” and “instant occlusion”. Tellus, 37A: 433-450.
  • 1984    Carleton, A.M. Synoptic sea ice - atmosphere interactions in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas from Nimbus-5 ESMR data. Journal of Geophysical Research, 89: 7245-7258.
  • 1983    Carleton, A.M. Variations in Antarctic sea ice conditions and relationships with Southern Hemisphere cyclonic activity, winters 1973-77. Theoretical and Applied Climatology, 32: 1-22.
  • 1982    Greenland, D.E. and Carleton, A.M. The ‘airshed’ concept and its application in complex terrain. Physical Geography, 3: 169–179.
  • 1981    Carleton, A.M. Climatology of the “instant occlusion” phenomenon for the Southern Hemisphere winter. Monthly Weather Review, 109: 177-181.
  • 1981    Carleton, A.M. Monthly variability of satellite-derived extratropical cyclone activity for the Southern Hemisphere winter. (International) Journal of Climatology, 1: 21-38.
  • 1980    Carleton, A.M. Polynya development in the Cape Thompson-Point Hope region, Alaska. Arctic and Alpine Research, 12: 205-214.
  • 1979    Carleton, A.M. A synoptic climatology of satellite-observed extratropical cyclone activity for the Southern Hemisphere winter. Theoretical and Applied Climatology, 27: 265-279.