Geography and the Environment

LTA, Sessional, and Adjunct Faculty

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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 was born in Lévis, the town 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 Master’s degree in physics.

During my Master’s degree, I was introduced to the challenging world of climate science. Climatology is replete with interesting questions and 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 and the Environment at the University of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford, devoting most of my time to climate research.


  • PhD, Yale University, 1992


Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society

American Meteorological Society

American Geophysical Union

Teaching Philosophy

To instill in students appreciation for the intricate behavior of the atmosphere and introduce them to the complex physical and human issues of climate change.

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.

Because our understanding of climatic variability is more rudimentary than that of atmospheric dynamics and that it depends on the statistical aspects of atmospheric variability, climate change concepts can be explained using simple models and introduced at earlier university levels. At UFV, the sequence of courses on climatology culminates, in the third-year, with the course on Climate Change and Variability (GEOG 308) which provides an extensive description of the current knowledge of climate evolution. At the fourth-year level, I teach a course (GEOG 400k – Modeling Climate Change and Variability) on the numerical modeling of climate systems. Given the computational power attained by modern computers and the complexity of climate dynamics, it has become necessary to understand how to model climate to improve our ability to predict its behavior well into the future. The course emphasizes the use of climate models from the simple Energy Balance Model to the complex Global Climate Model, similar to that used by climate researchers to understand the dynamics of the climate system. Students in the course will be able to conduct their own numerical experiments on Earth’s climate.

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 the physical aspects of atmospheric and climatic variability, I am also concerned with instilling a sense of environmental stewardship in young people. This is addressed in the course GEOG 211 on Environmental Science and the course International Planning and Development: Adapting to Climate Change (GEOG 364) which I co-teach with Professor Cherie Enns.

Courses Taught

  • GEOG 211 ― Environmental Science
  • GEOG 308 ― Climate Change and Variability
  • GEOG 364 ― International Planning and Development: Adapting to Climate Change
  • GEOG 400k ― Modeling Climate Change and Variability

Research Interests

The Geography of Climate Change

The geography of climate change encompasses two important aspects of the concept of climate: the physical and the cultural.

In order to understand the physics of climate variability, the routes through which climate change proceeds on Earth need to be understood. The changes occurring most rapidly are happening within the gaseous atmosphere, through atmospheric circulations or phenomena. The issues that attract my interest are: 1) the processes that drive the zonally-symmetric atmospheric circulations (i.e. the Hadley and Ferrel cells) and the jet streams, 2) the patterns of atmospheric variability that best capture the climate change signal of global warming, 3) the atmospheric changes that influence the structure of clouds, 4) the interactions between the troposphere and stratosphere, 5) the response patterns of climatic variability forced by external agents (e.g. volcanic eruptions) compared to those arising from free internal climatic variability, 6) the propagation of perturbations to the atmosphere through large distances and, regionally, 7) the imprint of hydroclimate regimes on stream flows in British Columbia, 8) the processes that control the structure of oceanic surface winds along the coast of British Columbia.

At the intersection of the physical and human aspects of climate change, I look at the interactions between the physical world and societies. My research interests are: 9) to classify and understand the differential rate of heating between cities and their adjoining rural areas, 10) to determine the relationships between GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and CO2 emissions in Canada, 11) to figure out the incentives that would make people take action to mitigate and/or adapt to climate change, that is, how large should the environmental threat be for people to act to mitigate climate change?

I use a variety of tools to conduct my research: Numerical (computer) modelling of climate systems; statistical analysis of atmospheric observations; theoretical (mathematics and physics) descriptions of atmospheric and climatic processes and phenomena; and cultural approaches to investigating people’s relations with climate change.


  • Simon Fraser University SD 401 (Issues, Concepts and Cases in Development and Sustainability) – class presentation, Climate Change Primer, 31/01/2018


Pandolfo, L., 2011: Rossby Waves. In: Encyclopedia of Climate and Weather, 2nd ed., S. H. Schneider, M. Mastrandrea, Eds.; Vol. 3, 14-20; Oxford University Press, New York.

Lu, B.-W. and L. Pandolfo, 2011: Quasi-Objective Nonlinear Principal Component Analysis. Neural Networks, 24, 159-170,

Lu, B.-W. and L. Pandolfo, 2010: Nonlinear relation of the Arctic oscillation with the quasi-biennial oscillation. Clim. Dyn., 36, 1491-1504, doi: 10.1007/s00382-010-0773-7.

Lu, B.-W., L. Pandolfo and K. Hamilton, 2009: Nonlinear Representation of the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation. J. Atmos. Sci., 66, 1886-1904.

Community Engagement





Langley Environmental Partners Society (LEPS)

Treasurer,  Board of Directors

06/2010 - present







29 Oct. 2013

Le PCAP sur le Climat et l’Energie signé aujourd’hui

Jacques Dufresne

« Boulevard du Pacifique » (Radio-Canada BC afternoon radio program)

3 Apr. 2013

Le gouv. Harper musèle-t-il  les scientifiques canadiens ?

Marie Villeneuve

« Boulevard du Pacifique » (Radio-Canada BC afternoon radio program)




Presentation Title


The future of our cities: The new urban agenda

Student Union Building (UFV)

Comments on: Climate Change and Cities


UFV Centre of Sustainability greenSPEAK Seminar

Climate Change:

Chronology, Science, Perils and Opportunities


Chilliwack Probus Club

Facing Climate Change: How are Humans Coping?


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