Cathy Hohenegger successfully habilitated at Universität Hamburg

Dr. Cathy Hohenegger, scientist and leader of the group “Precipitating Convection” at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology (MPI-M), was awarded her Habilitation (the highest qualification level in the German university system) on 24 June 2021.

Credit: privat

In her Habilitation Colloquium entitled:  “Where does it rain? The battle of shallow circulations” Dr. Hohenegger explained how dynamical effects, meaning circulations that develop in the boundary layer of the atmosphere, rather than thermodynamical effects, explain the spatial distribution of precipitation over different surfaces. Even though several circulations can be at play, the distribution of precipitation can be understood under the motto that the strongest circulation wins, with circulations isolated using density current theory. She showed that her results, which were based on idealized simulations, provide novel ideas to explain observed but yet unexplained features of the large-scale spatial distribution of precipitation in the tropics, such as the width of the Intertropical Convergence Zone, work that has motivated two on-going field experiments.

Overall, the research of Dr. Hohenegger focuses on precipitating convection, its interactions with the environment and its representation in atmospheric models across resolution. One question that particularly interests Dr. Hohenegger is the role that the surface, being the ocean or the land, plays in setting basic features of the climatological precipitation distribution: Do the properties of the surface conspire with convection to keep precipitation to the precipitating region? How strong is this coupling? To address these questions, it is of crucial importance to be able to represent convection explicitly and the surface dynamically in climate models. This is the reason why she is strongly involved in the use and further development of coupled storm-resolving Earth System Models, models which use a grid spacing of a few kilometers. Additionally, Dr. Hohenegger likes using more simple, idealized approaches to study problems of climate related to the coupling between convection and the underlying surface.

Recently, she has been involved in the design of different field experiments with the aim to sample the near-surface air properties at kilometer-scale resolution. At the moment, Dr. Hohenegger is the speaker of the ongoing field campaign FESSTVaL (Field Experiment on Submesoscale Spatio-Temporal Variability in Lindenberg).

Dr. Hohenegger studied and received her PhD at ETH Zürich. She was then a postdoc funded by the Swiss National Foundation at the University of Washington, USA, before moving to MPI-M in 2010. She has headed her own research group since 2011 and is also a team leader in the Hans-Ertel-Centre for Weather Research since 2011.

Further information:

Information about the group “Precipitation Convection” and its research
Project website of the field campaign FESSTVaL
Website Hans-Ertel-Centre (HErZ)


Dr. Cathy Hohenegger
Max Planck Institute for Meteorology
Email: cathy.hohenegger@we dont want