Student Research Spotlight

Qianwen Luo Profile Picture

Qianwen Luo


Earth, Atmospheric & Planetary Sciences


Wen-wen Tung

Research Title:

The Cloud-Radiative Forcing of the US Landfalling Atmospheric Rivers

Research Description:

The “Atmospheric Rivers (ARs)” are narrow channels in the atmosphere that transport massive amount of moisture from the tropics to the midlatitudes. When the moisture reaches the continental US, it can lead to extreme rain/snow, disastrous flooding, along with highly reflective clouds. These clouds modify the energy budget on the Earth’s surface; notably through interacting with radiation, a.k.a. Cloud-Radiative Forcing (CRF).

Although not understood, the AR-CRF might have non-negligible impacts on regional climate. Contemporary climate models, however, are not simulating such processes with adequate fidelity. Hence, I attempt to delineate from observations the various processes affecting the CRF associated with the ARs affecting the US. I extract the spatial-temporal characteristics for 120 wintertime ARs that influenced US during 2000–2008 from multiple satellite and gridded-analysis observations, using statistical methods such as principal component analysis, probability density functions, and correlational analysis aided by heat and mass conservation laws.

We discovered a frequently happened scenario that leads to multi day statewide cooling.

Our results 1) fill the current research gap, and 2) can be used by modelers to validate and improve weather and climate predictions, thereby helping decision makers make more informed decisions.

About Me:

My intellectual curiosity about life in all of its aspects and my passion to solve societal problems are what led me to pursue my Ph.D. in Atmospheric Sciences. After graduation, I am looking for a position where I could apply my disciplinary knowledge and data analysis skills to decision support.


  • •Summer Research Grant, Purdue University 04/2016
  • •Atmospheric Science Graduate Student Award, Purdue University 04/2016
  • •American Geophysical Union Student Travel Grant for Fall Meeting (Globally <14%) 12/2015
  • •Travel Grant, Earth, Atmospheric & Planetary Sciences, Purdue University 12/2015, 04/2013
  • •Policy Scholar, Global Policy Research Institute, Purdue University 2014
  • •Women In Science Program Travel Grant, Purdue University 04/2014
  • •1st Grade Chinese Government Scholarship, Ministry of Education of China, 2010 –2014


  • [1] Q. Luo and W.-w. Tung, 2016: The Cloud-Radiative Forcing of the Atmospheric Rivers on the US continents: an observational climatology study, Manuscript in preparation
  • [2] Q. Luo and W.-w. Tung, 2015: Case study of moisture and heat budgets within atmospheric rivers, Mon. Wea. Rev., DOI: 10.1175/MWR-D-15-0006.1


  • [1] Q. Luo and W.-w. Tung, 2016: The Cloud-Radiative Forcing of US landfalling Atmospheric Rivers, AMS 32nd Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology, San Juan, PR
  • [2] Q. Luo and W.-w. Tung, 2015: The Cloud-Radiative Forcing of North American landfalling Atmospheric Rivers, AGU Fall meeting 2015, San Francisco, CA
  • [3] Q. Luo and W.-w. Tung, 2014: Moisture and heat budgets within atmospheric rivers in January 2009, AMS 31st Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology, San Diego, CA.


  • •President and Founder, Graduate Student Seminar for Atmospheric Sciences, 06/2013 – 12/2013
  • •President, Departmental Women in Science Program, 01/2012 – 12/2012
  • •International Liaison Committee, Departmental Graduate Student Association, 01/2012 – 08/2013

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