Clemens Spensberger




Research groups


My work covers many aspects of mid- and high latitude atmospheric dynamics, in particular fronts, jets and orography and air-ice-sea interaction. Some key results from my work are summarized here.

Jets, blocking and storm track variability

  • The Southern Annular Mode (SAM) does not represent southern mid-latitude variability, but rather variability over Antartica and along its coast line (Spensberger et al. 2020, doi: 10.1175/JCLI-D-19-0224.1).
  • Jet variability does not necessarily follow geopotential variability (Spensberger and Spengler 2020, doi: 10.1175/JCLI-D-19-0715.1).
  • The stronger a jet, the less does it vary in position around its climatological mean, and the more does it favour anticyclonic wave breaking (Woollings et al. 2018, doi: 10.1175/JCLI-D-17-0286.1).
  • The same blocking high pressure can lead to concurrent heat waves in different regions through different mechanisms (Spensberger et al. 2020, doi: 10.1002/qj.3822)

Air-ice-sea interaction

  • Increasing atmospheric resolution and a sharper sea-ice edge invigorates the atmospheric water cycle in a cold-air outbreak (Spensberger and Spengler 2021, doi: 10.1029/2020JD033610).
  • The temperature contrast along the SST fronts affects the atmosphere primarily in the absence of cyclones and fronts (Tsopouridis et al. 2021, discussion paper doi: 10.5194/wcd-2020-50; Reeder et al. 2021, doi: 10.1175/JAS-D-20-0118.1).
  • Year-to-year variability in the heat loss to the atmosphere over the Arctic Ocean and Nordic Seas is driven by atmospheric variability, and associated with variations in the occurrence of cyclones and cold-air-outreaks (Smedsrud et al. 2021, submitted to Reviews of Geophysics, preprint doi: 10.1002/essoar.10506171.1).

Frontal dynamics

  • It is useful to distinguish not only between cold and warm fronts, but also between fronts that are more/less (a) kinematically intense, (b) affected by moist processes and (c) associated with surface fluxes (Spensberger and Sprenger 2018, doi: 10.1002/qj.3199).

Impact of orography on synoptic systems

  • The Scandinavian mountains had only a minor influence on the evolution of the New Year's Day Storm 1992, although the mountain range separated the cyclone core from the cyclone's warm sector (Spensberger and Schemm 2020, doi: 10.5194/wcd-1-175-2020).
  • We lack a satisfactory conceptual model to describe and explain cyclogenesis in the lee of the Rocky Mountains (Spensberger et al. 2017, doi: 10.1175/MWR-D-16-0195.1).

Idealised modelling

  • I am the main developer of the quasi-geostrophic and primitive-equation model Bedymo (manuscript submitted to GMD).

Newspaper article

Online articles


Current supervision activities

  • Co-supervision of 2 ongoing PhD projects

Completed supervision activities

  • Effective main supervision of master project (Trond Thorssteinson 2013)
  • Co-supervision of master projects (Angus Munro 2011, Kristian Alvsvåg 2014, Hilde Marie Vaaga 2015, Marit Dagny Kristine Jenssen 2017, Kjersti Konstali 2019)
  • 3-month student project through Arts & Science collaboration (Qinglin "Collin" You 2020)
  • Main supervision of 3-month Bachelor project (Dario Peyer 2016)
  • Main supervision of 2-3 month master-level internship projects (2018-2020)

Current teaching activities

  • Lecturer in short block courses: Introduction to python for PhD students and staff
    (Course materials available on github)

Previous teaching activities

  • Teaching assistant in Large-scale atmospheric dynamics
  • Teaching assistant in Mesoscale atmospheric dynamics
Academic article
Website (informational material)
Academic literature review
Feature article
Doctoral dissertation

See a complete overview of publications in Cristin.


Ongoing projects

  • Particpant in Atmosphere‐Sea Ice interactions in the new Arctic (ARIA) 2021-2024 funded by the Research Council of Norway.
  • Participant in Atmosphere-Ocean-Ice interactions (AOI) 2018-2021 funded by the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research.

Previous projects

  • Co-lead of Bjerknes Fast Track Initiative 2020 to the internal ERA-5 renalysis repository more accessible for climate-oriented analyses.
  • Lead of Bjerknes Fast Track Initiative 2019 (MIND the KAP) to make detected weather events directly available as output from the locally-developed climate model.
  • Lead of post doc mobility project (FRIO) on Front-Orography interactions 2015-2018.
Utvikling av programvare

I have developed several larger software projects from scratch