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Lionel Pandolfo

Lionel Pandolfo, PhD


Geography and the Environment

Abbotsford campus, A406h

Phone: 604-504-7441 ext. 4462

email Lionel


I grew up in Lévis, the town that is across the St-Lawrence River from Québec City. I have always been fascinated by physical sciences even from a tender age. Since I had a talent for logical thinking and the mathematical formulation of physical problems, I pursued a Bachelor's degree and a Masters degree in physics.

During my Master’s degree, I was introduced to the challenging world of climate science. Climatology is a field replete with interesting questions that need answers. Hence, I decided to conduct doctoral research in the fields of atmospheric dynamics and climatology.

I received my PhD from Yale University (Connecticut, USA) in 1992. After post-doctoral positions at Columbia University and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City, I became an assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

Since August 2010, I have been an adjunct faculty in the Department of Geography at the University of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford, devoting most of my time to climate research.


PhD, Yale University, 1992

Teaching Interests

My speciality is the dynamics of the atmosphere on planetary scales and its relationship with climatic variability. It is a challenge to describe the free and forced dynamics of the atmosphere using simple concepts. Hence, the mathematical description of atmospheric dynamics is best addressed in upper-level courses. It is a different story for the subject of climatology.

Because of our more rudimentary understanding of climatic variability, climate change concepts can be introduced at earlier university levels, culminating at UFV with the complete description of our current knowledge of climate evolution in the third-year Geography course on Climate Change and variability.

Being in the Geography department at UFV, I became aware of the importance of the human condition in effecting atmospheric and climatic changes for the better. Now, in addition to being interested in teaching all things atmospheric and climatic, I am also concerned with instilling a sense of environmental stewardship in young people. This is addressed in the Geography course on Environmental Science.

Lastly, I am in the process of developing a new course on the modelling of climatic and environmental systems. Given the computational power attained by modern computers and the complexity of environmental systems, it has become necessary to understand how to model these systems for improving their predictability.

Courses Taught:

GEOG 211 – Environmental Science

GEOG 308 – Climate Change and Variability

Research Interests

The aim of my research is to increase our scientific knowledge of climate variability and climate change that proceed through atmospheric processes.

On the global planetary scale, the issues that attract my interest are:

  1. What processes drive the zonally-symmetric atmospheric circulations (i.e. the Hadley and Ferrel cells) and the stationary jet stream
  2. What representation of atmospheric variability best captures the climate change signal of global warming
  3. How do atmospheric changes influence the structure of clouds
  4. How do the troposphere and stratosphere interact
  5. Does forced atmospheric or climatic variability proceed through the same channels as free variability
  6. How do perturbations to the atmosphere propagate through long distances

On shorter spatial scales, in the realm of synoptic climatology, I am interested in how climate cycles influence synoptic weather variability (i.e. storm activity) and what controls the structure of oceanic surface winds along the coast of British Columbia. My research also has a regional component: understanding the differential rate of heating between cities and their adjoining rural areas.

My research program represents a nested approach to investigating climate dynamics. It covers many scales of motion, from the regional to the planetary, in order to provide an integrated view of climate variability.

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