Sarah M. Kang appointed as new director at Max Planck Institute for Meteorology

Prof. Sarah M. Kang joins the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology (MPI-M) as a director on 15 August 2023. Prof. Kang joins the MPI-M from the Department of Urban and Environmental Engineering at Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) in South Korea, where she is a professor.

With her recruitment, the institute expands its efforts to understand the processes that establish Earth’s climate and that cause it to change. Sarah M. Kang will establish a new department of Climate Dynamics, whose focus will be on the dynamics that couple different components of the climate system. Her work complements the departments of Prof. Bjorn Stevens and Prof. Jochem Marotzke, who focus on climate physics and climate variability respectively. A hallmark of her approach, an agility in the use of a hierarchy of models (or model configurations) to develop and test theory, will benefit from the ongoing development of climate models at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology.

“I am very much honored and excited to be the director of MPI-M with Prof. Jochem Marotzke and Prof. Bjorn Stevens,” says Sarah M. Kang. “It´s almost surreal to find myself working alongside those whom I have always deeply admired. I feel incredibly fortunate to be part of this community, where a warm and welcoming atmosphere fosters genuine respect among every member. I truly appreciate the chance to continue my research with complete freedom, supported by all the fantastic resources available at the institute. I can't wait to see where this journey takes me.”

Sarah M. Kang´s ideas have broken new ground in understanding how the climate system responds to heating. Her work has elucidated how hemispheric heating anomalies influence the position of the tropical rain belts, how changes in ozone over the south pole affect the hydrology of the subtropics, and how zonally symmetric (independent of longitude) changes in the extra-tropics, for instance from melting shelf-ice or perturbations in atmospheric particulate matter (aerosol), can manifest as zonally asymmetric changes in tropical cloudiness that then act to mitigate against global warming.

“We are very excited to have Sarah M. Kang joining our board of directors,” says Managing Director Prof. Bjorn Stevens. “Her ability to develop theories encompassing couplings across diverse components of the climate system, acting on different space and time scales, sets her apart from other excellent theoreticians. Her ability to design elegant numerical experiments have helped establish her as an intellectual leader at the forefront of efforts to understand how circulation systems — from the tracks of storms to shifts in tropical rain-bands — respond to warming.”

Sarah M. Kang received her Bachelor´s degree in Atmospheric Sciences from Seoul National University, Korea, in 2004, and her Ph.D. in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences with a thesis on “The response of tropical precipitation to extratropical thermal forcing” from Princeton University, USA, in 2009. After working as a Postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University, USA, from 2009-2011, she was an Associate professor at UNIST, one of Korea’s leading technical universities, from 2011 onwards. She was promoted to the rank of full professor at UNIST in 2022, where her research and teaching contributions led to numerous awards. This year, for example, she was the recipient of the 2022 AGU Ascent Award.

More information

Department Climate Dynamics


Sarah M. Kang, PhD
Max Planck Institute for Meteorology
sarah.kang@we dont want