Tumamoc Talks

What Goes on Inside the Clouds?

Photo of clouds and rainfall on a landscape

Kavan Hazeli


5:30 to 6:30 p.m., Feb. 22, 2024

Tumamoc Talks bring together University of Arizona research to the greater Tucson community. 

Tucson boasts more than 300 days of sunshine per year, and we may not think of clouds as a crucial element of our environment. But the cloud systems that make up the North American Monsoon generate most of our annual rainfall. We will discuss where the moisture for these cloud systems comes from and how they interact with the land surface. Numerous small-scale physical processes called microphysics occur within the clouds from their formation to their dissipation, and these processes are a primary source of uncertainty in our weather and climate simulations. We will talk about how we simulate clouds---and the atmosphere more generally---as well as what these simulations predict for the Sonoran Desert’s atmosphere in years ahead.

Our speaker:

Dr. Sylvia Sullivan is an Assistant Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering at the University of Arizona. Sylvia received her B.S. in chemical engineering from the California Institute of Technology in 2012 and her Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2017. She was a postdoc at Columbia University for two years and a Young Investigator Fellow at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology for another two. She started as an assistant professor at the University of Arizona in 2022.

Sylvia is interested in multiscale interactions in the atmosphere, from ice crystal nucleation and fragmentation (crystallization and attrition) at the smallest scales to mesoscale storm propagation and evolution at larger scales. The group designs benchtop experiments to understand cloud processes and runs storm-resolving models on the UA high-performance computing cluster to quantify impacts on surface rainfall rates and the atmospheric energy balance.


Tumamoc Talks are located at the Boathouse at the base of Tumamoc Hill. 

Learn more and RSVP at tumamoc-hill@arizona.edu.