Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences

Christopher W. Fairall

Christopher W. Fairall

Research Interests

Chris Fairall is a physicist at NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, where he heads the Boundary-Layer Observations and Processes team. He has spent decades developing and deploying air-sea interaction observing systems for NOAA ships and aircraft and has participated in nearly 50 research field programs and cruises from the Tropics to the Arctic icecap. His work is devoted to making direct measurements for verifying and improving the representation of air-sea interaction processes (surface evaporation, absorption of heat, generation of waves, uptake of carbon dioxide) in climate models used for climate change projections.


Current Research

Recently Dr. Fairall has been working on analyzing observations from the High Wind Gas exchange Study (HiWinGS) conducted from the Research Vessel Knorr south of Greenland in fall 2013 (Fig. 1). The project was a cooperation of CIRES, NOAA/ESRL, LDEO Columbia University, the University of Connecticut, and the University of Leeds (UK). Observations included air-sea fluxes of several trace gases including CO2 and DMS, whitecap coverage, surface wave spectra, and oceanic bubbles. During the three-month field program, we obtained the first measurements of these parameters with wind speeds exceeding 20 m/s. The data definitively show that parameterizations of whitecap fraction currently used in gas-transfer models are wrong at high wind speeds. We are now using a unique ocean wave model to relate wind and wave characteristics to whitecaps (Fig. 2) and gas transfer. The results are intended to improve NOAA’s COARE Gas flux parameterization.

Figure 1. Photograph taken from the bridge of R/V Knorr during the St. Jude’s Day storm in November 2013. The ship was about 200 km south of the southern tip of Greenland. The flux instruments are visible as a cluster on the top of the foremast. Wind speed in the storm topped 25 m/s.

Figure 2. Representation of the dependence of wavebreaking whitecap coverage of the ocean as a function of wind speed (U10) and phase speed (Cp) of the peak of the wave spectrum. The continuous lines are from the University of New South Wales wave model; the symbols are observations from HiWinGS. The legend gives the value of U10 for each model set.


Honors and Awards

  • Member of the NOAA CPPA Science Steering Committee
  • Fellow of the American Meteorological Society
  • AMS Sverdrup Gold Medal winner

View Publications

  • Grachev, AA, LS Leo, S Di Sabatino, HJS Fernando, ER Pardyjak and CW Fairall (2016), Structure of Turbulence in Katabatic Flows Below and Above the Wind-Speed Maximum. Bound.-Layer Meteor. Version: 1 159 (3) 469-494, issn: Jun-14, ids: DM5TG, doi: 10.1007/s10546-015-0034-8
  • Chen, S, M Flatau, TG Jensen, T Shinoda, J Schmidt, P May, J Cummings, M Liu, PE Ciesielski, CW Fairall, RC Lien, DB Baranowski, NH Chi, S de Szoeke and J Edson (2015), A Study of CINDY/DYNAMO MJO Suppressed Phase. J. Atmos. Sci. Version: 1 72 (10) 3755-3779, issn: 0022-4928, ids: CT2MY, doi: 10.1175/JAS-D-13-0348.1
  • Grachev, AA, EL Andreas, CW Fairall, PS Guest and POG Persson (2015), Similarity theory based on the Dougherty-Ozmidov length scale. Q. J. R. Meteorol. Soc. Version: 1 141 (690) 1845-1856, issn: 0035-9009, ids: CP9HE, doi: 10.1002/qj.2488
  • De Szoeke, SP, JB Edson, JR Marion, CW Fairall and L Bariteau (2015), The MJO and Air-Sea Interaction in TOGA COARE and DYNAMO. J. Climate Version: 1 28 (2) 597-622, issn: 0894-8755, ids: AZ4WB, doi: 10.1175/JCLI-D-14-00477.1
  • Ghate, VP, MA Miller, BA Albrecht and CW Fairall (2015), Thermodynamic and Radiative Structure of Stratocumulus-Topped Boundary Layers. J. Atmos. Sci. Version: 1 72 (1) 430-451, issn: 0022-4928, ids: AY1WA, doi: 10.1175/JAS-D-13-0313.1
  • Ghate, VP, BA Albrecht, MA Miller, A Brewer and CW Fairall (2014), Turbulence and Radiation in Stratocumulus-Topped Marine Boundary Layers: A Case Study from VOCALS-REx. J. Appl. Meteor. Clim. Version: 1 53 (1) 117-135, issn: 1558-8424, ids: AA0FD, doi: 10.1175/JAMC-D-12-0225.1
  • Boylan, P, D Helmig, R Staebler, A Turnipseed, C Fairall and W Neff (2014), Boundary layer dynamics during the Ocean-Atmosphere-Sea-Ice-Snow (OASIS) 2009 experiment at Barrow, AK. J. Geophys. Res-Atmos. Version: 1 119 (5) 2261-2278, issn: 2169-897X, ids: AE3OL, doi: 10.1002/2013JD020299
  • Fairall, CW, S Pezoa, K Moran and D Wolfe (2014), An observation of sea-spray microphysics by airborne Doppler radar. Geophys. Res. Lett. Version: 1 41 (10) 3658-3665, issn: 0094-8276, ids: AJ4AC, doi: 10.1002/2014GL060062
  • Moum, JN, SP de Szoeke, WD Smyth, JB Edson, HL DeWitt, AJ Moulin, EJ Thompson, CJ Zappa, SA Rutledge, RH Johnson and CW Fairall (2014), AirSea Interactions from Westerly Wind Bursts During the November 2011 MJO in the Indian Ocean. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc. Version: 1 95 (8) 1185-1199, issn: 0003-0007, ids: AQ1PD, doi: 10.1175/BAMS-D-12-00225.1
  • Blomquist, BW, BJ Huebert, CW Fairall, L Bariteau, JB Edson, JE Hare and WR McGillis (2014), Advances in Air-Sea Flux Measurement by Eddy Correlation. Bound.-Layer Meteor. Version: 1 152 (3) 245-276, issn: Jun-14, ids: AN2JI, doi: 10.1007/s10546-014-9926-2
  • Coburn, S, I Ortega, R Thalman, B Blomquist, CW Fairall and R Volkamer (2014), Measurements of diurnal variations and eddy covariance (EC) fluxes of glyoxal in the tropical marine boundary layer: description of the Fast LED-CE-DOAS instrument. Atmos. Meas. Tech. Version: 1 7 (10) 3579-3595, issn: 1867-1381, ids: AT2AE, doi: 10.5194/amt-7-3579-2014
  • Grachev, AA, EL Andreas, CW Fairall, PS Guest and POG Persson (2013), The Critical Richardson Number and Limits of Applicability of Local Similarity Theory in the Stable Boundary Layer. Bound.-Layer Meteor. Version: 1 147 (1) 51-82, issn: Jun-14, ids: 098RX, doi: 10.1007/s10546-012-9771-0
  • Bourassa, MA, ST Gille, C Bitz, D Carlson, I Cerovecki, CA Clayson, MF Cronin, WM Drennan, CW Fairall, RN Hoffman, G Magnusdottir, RT Pinker, IA Renfrew, M Serreze, K Speer, LD Talley and GA Wick (2013), HIGH-LATITUDE OCEAN AND SEA ICE SURFACE FLUXES: CHALLENGES FOR CLIMATE RESEARCH. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc. Version: 1 94 (3) 403-423, issn: 0003-0007, ids: 122OO, doi: 10.1175/BAMS-D-11-00244.1
  • Rodriguez-Alvarez, N, DM Akos, VU Zavorotny, JA Smith, A Camps and CW Fairall (2013), Airborne GNSS-R Wind Retrievals Using Delay-Doppler Maps. IEEE T Geosci. Remote Version: 1 51 Part 2 (1) 626-641, issn: 0196-2892, ids: 077IO, doi: 10.1109/TGRS.2012.2196437
  • Vecherin, SN, VE Ostashev, CW Fairall, DK Wilson and L Bariteau (2013), Sonic Anemometer as a Small Acoustic Tomography Array. Bound.-Layer Meteor. Version: 1 149 (2) 165-178, issn: Jun-14, ids: 228XG, doi: 10.1007/s10546-013-9843-9
  • Meskhidze, N, MD Petters, K Tsigaridis, T Bates, C O'Dowd, J Reid, ER Lewis, B Gantt, MD Anguelova, PV Bhave, J Bird, AH Callaghan, D Ceburnis, R Chang, A Clarke, G de Leeuw, G Deane, PJ DeMott, S Elliot, MC Facchini, CW Fairall, L Hawkins, YX Hu, JG Hudson, MS Johnson, KC Kaku, WC Keene, DJ Kieber, MS Long, M Martensson, RL Modini, CL Osburn, KA Prather, A Pszenny, M Rinaldi, LM Russell, M Salter, AM Sayer, A Smirnov, SR Suda, TD Toth, DR Worsnop, A Wozniak and SR Zorn (2013), Production mechanisms, number concentration, size distribution, chemical composition, and optical properties of sea spray aerosols. Atmos. Sci. Lett. Version: 1 14 (4) 207-213, issn: 1530-261X, ids: 239NV, doi: 10.1002/asl2.441
  • Edson, JB, V Jampana, RA Weller, SP Bigorre, AJ Plueddemann, CW Fairall, SD Miller, L Mahrt, D Vickers and H Hersbach (2013), On the Exchange of Momentum over the Open Ocean. J. Phys. Oceanogr. Version: 1 43 (8) 1589-1610, issn: 0022-3670, ids: 201JB, doi: 10.1175/JPO-D-12-0173.1
  • Zuidema, P, D Painemal, S de Szoeke and C Fairall (2009), Stratocumulus Cloud-Top Height Estimates and Their Climatic Implications. J. Clim. Version: 1 22 (17) 4652-4666, issn: 0894-8755, ids: 488UL, doi: 10.1175/2009JCLI2708.1
  • de Szoeke, SP, CW Fairall and S Pezoa (2009), Ship Observations of the Tropical Pacific Ocean along the Coast of South America. J. Climate Version: 1 22 (2) 458-464, issn: 0894-8755, ids: 413IN, doi: 10.1175/2008JCLI2555.1
  • Fairall, CW, ML Banner, WL Peirson, W Asher and RP Morison (2009), Investigation of the physical scaling of sea spray spume droplet production. J. Geophys. Res. Oceans Version: 1 114 , Art. No. C10001, issn: 0148-0227, ids: 502MK, doi: 10.1029/2008JC004918
  • Ghate, VP, BA Albrecht, CW Fairall and RA Weller (2009), Climatology of Surface Meteorology, Surface Fluxes, Cloud Fraction, and Radiative Forcing over the Southeast Pacific from Buoy Observations. J. Climate Version: 1 22 (20) 5527-5540, issn: 0894-8755, ids: 510HY, doi: 10.1175/2009JCLI2961.1
  • Ganzeveld, L, D Helmig, CW Fairall, J Hare and A Pozzer (2009), Atmosphere-ocean ozone exchange: A global modeling study of biogeochemical, atmospheric, and waterside turbulence dependencies. Glob. Biogeochem. Cycle Version: 1 23 , Art. No. GB4021, issn: 0886-6236, ids: 516YQ, doi: 10.1029/2008GB003301
  • Grachev, AA, EL Andreas, CW Fairall, PS Guest and POG Persson (2008), Turbulent measurements in the stable atmospheric boundary layer during SHEBA: ten years after. Acta Geophys. Version: 1 56 (1) 142-166, issn: 1895-6572, ids: 247TZ, doi: 10.2478/s11600-007-0048-9
  • Fairall, CW, T Uttal, D Hazen, J Hare, MF Cronin, N Bond and DE Veron (2008), Observations of cloud, radiation, and surface forcing in the equatorial eastern Pacific. J. Clim. Version: 1 21 (4) 655-673, issn: 0894-8755, ids: 263VQ, doi: 10.1175/2007JCLI1757.1
  • Wood, R, KK Comstock, CS Bretherton, C Cornish, J Tomlinson, DR Collins and C Fairall (2008), Open cellular structure in marine stratocumulus sheets. J. Geophys. Res-Atmos. Version: 1 113 (D12) , Art. No. D12207, issn: 0148-0227, ids: 321MQ, doi: 10.1029/2007JD009371
  • Serpetzoglou, E, BA Albrecht, P Kollias and CW Fairall (2008), Boundary Layer, Cloud, and Drizzle Variability in the Southeast Pacific Stratocumulus Regime. J. Climate Version: 1 21 (23) 6191-6214, issn: 0894-8755, ids: 384OM, doi: 10.1175/2008JCLI2186.1
  • Weller, RA, EF Bradley, JB Edson, CW Fairall, I Brooks, MJ Yelland and RW Pascal (2008), Sensors for physical fluxes at the sea surface: energy, heat, water, salt. Ocean Sci. Version: 1 4 (4) 247-263, issn: 1812-0784, ids: 407RD, doi: 10.5194/os-4-247-2008
  • Grachev, AA, EL Andreas, CW Fairall, PS Guest and POG Persson (2007), On the turbulent Prandtl number in the stable atmospheric boundary layer. Bound.-Layer Meteor. Version: 1 NATO Advanced Research Workshop on Atmospheric Boundary Layers 125 (2) 329-341, Dubrovnik, CROATIA, APR 18-22, 2006, issn: Jun-14, ids: 214IB, doi: 10.1007/s10546-007-9192-7
  • Cohen, L, D Helmig, WD Neff, AA Grachev and CW Fairall (2007), Boundary-layer dynamics and its influence on atmospheric chemistry at Summit, Greenland. Atmos. Environ. Version: 1 41 (24) 5044-5060, issn: 1352-2310, ids: 203PL, doi: 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2006.06.068
  • Grachev, AA, EL Andreas, CW Fairall, PS Guest and POG Persson (2007), SHEBA flux-profile relationships in the stable atmospheric boundary layer. Bound.-Layer Meteor. Version: 1 124 (3) 315-333, issn: Jun-14, ids: 195MX, doi: 10.1007/s10546-007-9177-6
  • Zuidema, P, C Fairall, LM Hartten, JE Hare and D Wolfe (2007), On air-sea interaction at the mouth of the Gulf of California. J. Clim. Version: 1 20 (9) 1649-1661, issn: 0894-8755, ids: 167TE, doi: 10.1175/JCL14089.1
  • Wolfe, DE, WA Brewer, SC Tucker, AB White, DE White, DC Welsh, D Ruffieux, CW Fairall, M Ratterree, JM Intrieri, BJ McCarty and DC Law (2007), Shipboard multisensor merged wind profiles from the New England Air Quality Study 2004. J. Geophys. Res.-Atmos. Version: 1 112 (D10) , Art. No. D10S15, issn: 2169-897X, ids: 155ME, doi: 10.1029/2006JD007344
  • Fairall, CW, D Helmig, L Ganzeveld and J Hare (2007), Water-side turbulence enhancement of ozone deposition to the ocean. Atmos. Chem. Phys. Version: 1 7 443-451, issn: 1680-7316, ids: 129RT
  • Zuidema, P, B Mapes, JL Lin, C Fairall and G Wick (2006), The interaction of clouds and dry air in the Eastern tropical Pacific. J. Clim. Version: 1 19 (18) 4531-4544, issn: 0894-8755, ids: 090XI, doi: 10.1175/JCLI3836.1
  • Andreas, EL, KJ Claffey, RE Jordan, CW Fairall, PS Guest, POG Persson and AA Grachev (2006), Evaluations of the von Karman constant in the atmospheric surface layer. J. Fluid Mech. Version: 1 559 117-149, issn: 0022-1120, ids: 074SP, doi: 10.1017/S0022112006000164
  • Zilitinkevich, SS, JCR Hunt, IN Esau, AA Grachev, DP Lalas, E Akylas, M Tombrou, CW Fairall, HJS Fernando, AA Baklanov and SM Joffre (2006), The influence of large convective eddies on the surface-layer turbulence. Q. J. R. Meteorol. Soc. Version: 1 132 (618) 1423-1456, issn: 0035-9009, ids: 087ST, doi: 10.1256/qj.05.79
  • Fairall, CW, L Bariteau, AA Grachev, RJ Hill, DE Wolfe, WA Brewer, SC Tucker, JE Hare and WM Angevine (2006), Turbulent bulk transfer coefficients and ozone deposition velocity in the International Consortium for Atmospheric Research into Transport and Transformation. J. Geophys. Res.-Atmos. Version: 1 111 (D23) , Art. No. D23S20, issn: 2169-897X, ids: 118LD, doi: 10.1029/JD007597
  • Zuidema, P, ER Westwater, C Fairall and D Hazen (2005), Ship-based liquid water path estimates in marine stratocumulus. J. Geophys. Res.-Atmos. Version: 1 110 (D20) , Art. No. D20206, issn: 2169-897X, ids: 981RT, doi: 10.1029/2005JD005833
  • Grachev, AA, CW Fairall, POG Persson, EL Andreas and PS Guest (2005), Stable boundary-layer scaling regimes: The Sheba data. Bound.-Layer Meteor. Version: 1 116 (2) 201-235, issn: Jun-14, ids: 969AA, doi: 10.1007/s10546-004-2729-0
  • Persson, POG, JE Hare, CW Fairall and WD Ott (2005), Air-sea interaction processes in warm and cold sectors of extratropical cyclonic storms observed during FASTEX. Q. J. R. Meteorol. Soc. Version: 1 131 (607) 877-912, issn: 0035-9009, ids: 924FK, doi: 10.1256/jq.03.181
  • McGillis, WR, JB Edson, CJ Zappa, JD Ware, SP McKenna, EA Terray, JE Hare, CW Fairall, W Drennan, M Donelan, MD DeGrandpre, R Wanninkhof and RA Feely (2004), Air-sea CO2 exchange in the equatorial Pacific. J. Geophys. Res.-Oceans Version: 1 109 (C8) , Art. No. C08S02, issn: 2169-9275, ids: 850MR, doi: 10.1029/2003JC002256
  • Hare, JE, CW Fairall, WR McGillis, JB Edson, B Ward and R Wanninkhof (2004), Evaluation of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Coupled-Ocean Atmospheric Response Experiment (NOAA/COARE) air-sea gas transfer parameterization using GasEx data. J. Geophys. Res.-Oceans Version: 1 109 (C8) , Art. No. C08S11, issn: 2169-9275, ids: 839QC, doi: 10.1029/2003JC001831
  • Kollias, P, CW Fairall, P Zuidema, J Tomlinson and GA Wick (2004), Observations of marine stratocumulus in SE Pacific during the PACS 2003 cruise. Geophys. Res. Lett. Version: 1 31 (22) , Art. No. L22110, issn: 0094-8276, ids: 877PR, doi: 10.1029/2004GL020751
  • Huebert, BJ, BW Blomquist, JE Hare, CW Fairall, JE Johnson and TS Bates (2004), Measurement of the sea-air DMS flux and transfer velocity using eddy correlation. Geophys. Res. Lett. Version: 1 31 (23) , Art. No. L23113, issn: 0094-8276, ids: 881QC, doi: 10.1029/2004GL021567
  • Grachev, AA, CW Fairall, JE Hare, JB Edson and SD Miller (2003), Wind stress vector over ocean waves. J. Phys. Oceanogr. Version: 1 33 (11) 2408-2429, issn: 0022-3670, ids: 735GF, doi: 10.1175/1520-0485(2003)033<2408:WSVOOW>2.0.CO;2
  • Andreas, EL, CW Fairall, POG Persson and PS Guest (2003), Probability distributions for the inner scale and the refractive index structure parameter and their implications for flux averaging. J. Appl. Meteorol. Version: 1 42 (9) 1316-1329, issn: 0894-8763, ids: 717KR, doi: 10.1175/1520-0450(2003)042<1316:PDFTIS>2.0.CO;2
  • Fairall, CW, EF Bradley, JE Hare, AA Grachev and JB Edson (2003), Bulk parameterization of air-sea fluxes: Updates and verification for the COARE algorithm. J. Clim. Version: 1 16 (4) 571-591, issn: 0894-8755, ids: 644HP, doi: 10.1175/1520-0442(2003)016<0571:BPOASF>2.0.CO;2
  • Andreas, EL, PS Guest, POG Persson, CW Fairall, TW Horst, RE Moritz and SR Semmer (2002), Near-surface water vapor over polar sea ice is always near ice saturation. J. Geophys. Res.-Oceans Version: 1 107 (C10) , Art. No. 8033, issn: 0148-0227, ids: 633YD, doi: 10.1029/2000JC000411
  • Intrieri, JM, CW Fairall, MD Shupe, POG Persson, EL Andreas, PS Guest and RE Moritz (2002), An annual cycle of Arctic surface cloud forcing at SHEBA. J. Geophys. Res.-Oceans Version: 1 107 (C10) , Art. No. 8039, issn: 0148-0227, ids: 638JN, doi: 10.1029/2000JC000439
  • Persson, POG, CW Fairall, EL Andreas, PS Guest and DK Perovich (2002), Measurements near the Atmospheric Surface Flux Group tower at SHEBA: Near-surface conditions and surface energy budget. J. Geophys. Res.-Oceans Version: 1 107 (C10) , Art. No. 8045, issn: 0148-0227, ids: 638JN, doi: 10.1029/2000JC000705
  • Zilitinkevich, SS, AA Grachev and CW Fairall (2001), Scaling reasoning and field data on the sea surface roughness lengths for scalars. J. Atmos. Sci. Version: 1 58 (3) 320-325, issn: 0022-4928, ids: 393BT, doi: 10.1175/1520-0469(2001)058<0320:NACRAF>2.0.CO;2
  • Grachev, AA and CW Fairall (2001), Upward momentum transfer in the marine boundary layer. J. Phys. Oceanogr. Version: 1 31 (7) 1698-1711, issn: 0022-3670, ids: 450ZM, doi: 10.1175/1520-0485(2001)031<1698:UMTITM>2.0.CO;2
  • McGillis, WR, JB Edson, JE Hare and CW Fairall (2001), Direct covariance air-sea CO2 fluxes. J. Geophys. Res.-Oceans Version: 1 106 (C8) 16729-16745, issn: 0148-0227, ids: 460UB, doi: 10.1029/2000JC000506
  • McGillis, WR, JB Edson, JD Ware, JWH Dacey, JE Hare, CW Fairall and R Wanninkhof (2001), Carbon dioxide flux techniques performed during GasEx-98. Mar. Chem. Version: 1 75 (4) 267-280, issn: 0304-4203, ids: 470CP, doi: 10.1016/S0304-4203(01)00042-1
  • Fairall, CW, POG Persson, EF Bradley, RE Payne and SP Anderson (1998), A new look at calibration and use of Eppley precision infrared radiometers. Part I: Theory and application. J. Atmos. Ocean. Technol. Version: 1 15 (6) 1229-1242, issn: 0739-0572, ids: 165LM, doi: 10.1175/1520-0426(1998)015<1229:ANLACA>2.0.CO;2
  • Frisch, AS, G Feingold, CW Fairall, T Uttal and JB Snider (1998), On cloud radar and microwave radiometer measurements of stratus cloud liquid water profiles. J. Geophys. Res.-Atmos. Version: 1 103 (D18) 23195-23197, issn: 2169-897X, ids: 126PT, doi: 10.1029/98JD01827
  • Post, MJ, CW Fairall, JB Snider, Y Han, AB White, WL Ecklund, KM Weickmann, PK Quinn, DI Cooper, SM Sekelsky, RE McIntosh, P Minnett and RO Knuteson (1997), The Combined Sensor Program: An air-sea science mission in the Central and Western Pacific Ocean. Bull. Amer. Meteorol. Soc. Version: 1 78 (12) 2797-2815, issn: 0003-0007, ids: YZ885, doi: 10.1175/1520-0477(1997)078<2797:TCSPAA>2.0.CO;2
  • CHERTOCK, B, CW FAIRALL and AB WHITE (1993), SURFACE-BASED MEASUREMENTS AND SATELLITE RETRIEVALS OF BROKEN CLOUD PROPERTIES IN THE EQUATORIAL PACIFIC. J. Geophys. Res.-Atmos. Version: 1 98 (D10) 18489-18500, issn: 0148-0227, ids: MD722, doi: 10.1029/93JD01737