Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder

Lesley L. Smith

Research Interests

Dr. Lesley L. Smith is a physicist in the University of Colorado's Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences. Her research interests include climate diagnostics and variability on seasonal to centennial time scales, ENSO impacts, attribution of weather and climate-related extremes, chemistry climate interactions and climate modeling. 

Dr. Smith is committed to increasing diversity in the scientific community and is a longtime mentor in NSF's Significant Opportunities in Atmospheric Research and Science (SOARS) program. She has also participated in programs of organizations such as PROmoting Geoscience Research, Education & SuccesS (PROGRESS)Blacks in Government (BIG), and The Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS).

Current Research

Dr. Smith is currently working on model downscaling, extreme weather including drought in the U.S. Great Plains, extreme precipitation in Texas and California, hurricanes and changes in the Arctic.


May 2015 had extreme precipitation in the Texas/Oklahoma region which seemed to be tied to the El Nino that spring. We're doing a statistical analysis.


Pan-Arctic Ice-Ocean Modeling and Assimilation System (PIOMAS) Data 2016 ice extent as compared to the 1980-1989 climatology shows Arctic ice is decreasing.Why? What could be the cause(s)? And what will be the effects on mid-latitudes?


View Publications

  • Hegglin MI; Tegtmeier S; Anderson J; Bourassa AE; Brohede S; Degenstein D; Froidevaux L; Funke B; Gille J; Kasai Y. (May 2021). Overview and update of the SPARC Data Initiative: comparison of stratospheric composition measurements from satellite limb sounders. Earth System Science Data , 13(5), 1855-1903. 10.5194/essd-13-1855-2021
  • Hoerling M; Smith L; Quan X-W; Eischeid J; Barsugli J; Diaz HF. (Apr 2021). Explaining the Spatial Pattern of US Extreme Daily Precipitation Change. Journal of Climate , 34(7), 2759-2775. 10.1175/jcli-d-20-0666.1
  • Dole, RM, JR Spackman, iman, W Otto, O Persson, XW Quan, I RangwalaM Newman, GP Compo, CA Smith, LM Hartten, JJ Barsugli, RS Webb, MP Hoerling, R Cifelli, K Wolter, CD Barnet, M Gehne, R Gelaro, GN Kiladis, S Abbott, E Akish, J Albers, JM Brown, CJ Cox, L Darby, G de Boer, B DeLuisi, J Dias, J Dunion, J Eischeid, C Fairall, A Gambacorta, BK Gorton, A Hoell, J Intrieri, D Jackson, PE Johnston, R Lataitis, KM Mahoney, K McCaffrey, HA McColl, MJ Mueller, D Murrrray, PJ Ne, AJ Ray, D Reynolds, ER Dellaripa, K Rosenlof, N Sakaeda, PD Sardeshmukh, LC Slivinski, L Smith, A Solomon, D Swales, S Tulich, A White, G Wick, MG Winterkorn, DE Wolfe and R Zamora. (May 2018). ADVANCING SCIENCE AND SERVICES DURING THE 2015/16 EL NINO The NOAA El Nino Rapid Response Field Campaign. BULLETIN OF THE AMERICAN METEOROLOGICAL SOCIETY , 99(5). 10.1175/BAMS-D-16-0219.1
  • Sun, LT, D Allured, M Hoerling, L Smith, J Perlwitz, D Murray and J Eischeid. (Mar 2018). Drivers of 2016 record Arctic warmth assessed using climate simulations subjected to Factual and Counterfactual forcing. WEATHER AND CLIMATE EXTREMES , 19. 10.1016/j.wace.2017.11.001
  • Cheng, LY, M Hoerling, L Smith and J Eischeid. (Feb 2018). Diagnosing Human-Induced Dynamic and Thermodynamic Drivers of Extreme Rainfall. JOURNAL OF CLIMATE , 31(3). 10.1175/JCLI-D-16-0919.1
  • Quan, XW, M Hoerling, L Smith, J Perlwitz, T Zhang, A Hoell, K Wolter and J Eischeid. (Jan 2018). EXTREME CALIFORNIA RAINS DURING WINTER 2015/16: A CHANGE IN EL NINO TELECONNECTION?. , 99(1). 10.1175/BAMS-D-17-0118.1
  • Tegtmeier, S, MI Hegglin, J Anderson, B Funke, J Gille, A Jones, L Smith, T von Clarmann and KA Walker. (Jan 2016). The SPARC Data Initiative: comparisons of CFC-11, CFC-12, HF and SF6 climatologies from international satellite limb sounders. EARTH SYSTEM SCIENCE DATA , 8(1). 10.5194/essd-8-61-2016
  • Smith, L.L., J.C. Gille. (Jan 2014). Validation of the Aura High Resolution Dynamics Limb Sounder geopotential heights. , 7(8). 10.5194/amt-7-2775-2014
  • Tegtmeier, S, MI Hegglin, J Anderson, A Bourassa, S Brohede, D Degenstein, L Froidevaux, R Fuller, B Funke, J Gille, A Jones, Y Kasai, K Kruger, E Kyrola, G Lingenfelser, J Lumpe, B Nardi, J Neu, D Pendlebury, E Remsberg, A Rozanov, L Smith, M Toohey, J Urban, T von Clarmann, KA Walker and RHJ Wang. (Nov 2013). SPARC Data Initiative: A comparison of ozone climatologies from international satellite limb sounders. JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-ATMOSPHERES , 118(21). 10.1002/2013JD019877
  • Toohey, M, MI Hegglin, S Tegtmeier, J Anderson, JA Anel, A Bourassa, S Brohede, D Degenstein, L Froidevaux, R Fuller, B Funke, J Gille, A Jones, Y Kasai, K Kruger, E Kyrola, JL Neu, A Rozanov, L Smith, J Urban, T von Clarmann, KA Walker and RHJ Wang. (Oct 2013). Characterizing sampling biases in the trace gas climatologies of the SPARC Data Initiative. JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-ATMOSPHERES , 118(20). 10.1002/jgrd.50874
  • Gille, J., Cavanaugh, C., Halvorson, C., Hartsough, C., Nardi, B., Rivas, M., Khosravi, R., Smith, L., Francis, G. (Jan 2012). Final Correction algorithms for HIRDLS version 7 data. , 8511( ). 10.1117/12.930175
  • Trenberth, KE., Smith, L. (Jan 2009). The three dimensional structure of the atmospheric energy budget methodology and evaluation. , 32( 7-8). 10.1007/s00382-008-0389-3
  • Trenberth, KE., Smith, L. (Jan 2009). Variations in the Three-Dimensional Structure of the Atmospheric Ciruclation with Different Flavors of El Nino. , 22(11). 10.1175/2008jcli2691.1
  • E. TRENBERTH K; SMITH L. (Jan 2008). Atmospheric Energy Budgets in the Japanese Reanalysis: Evaluation and Variability. Journal of the Meteorological Society of Japan , 86(5), 579-592. 10.2151/jmsj.86.579
  • Trenberth, KE., Smith, L. (Jan 2008). Atmospheric Energy Budgets in the Japanese Reanalysis Evaluation and Variability. , 86(5).
  • Trenberth, KE., Smith, L., Qian, TT., Dai, A., Fasullo, J. (Jan 2007). Estimates of the global water budget and its annual cycle using observational and model data. , 8(4). 10.1175/JHM600.1
  • Trenberth, KE., Smith, L. (Jan 2006). The vertical structure of temperature in the tropics Different flavors of El Nino. , 19(19). 10.1175/jcli3891.1
  • Trenberth, KE., Stepaniak, DP., Smith, L. (Jan 2005). Interannual variability of patterns of atmospheric mass distribution. , 18(15). 10.1175/JCLI3333.1
  • Trenberth, KE., Fasullo, J., Smith, L. (Jan 2005). Trends and variability in column-integrated atmospheric water vapor. , 24(7-8). 10.1007/s00382-005-0017-4
  • Trenberth, KE., Smith, L. (Jan 2005). The mass of the atmosphere A constraint on global analysis. , 18(6). 10.1175/jcli-3299.1
  • Klonecki, A., Hess, P., Emmons, L., Smith, L., Orlando, J., Blake, D. (Jan 2003). Seasonal changes in the transport of pollutants into the Arctic troposphere-model study. , 108(D4). 10.1029/2002jd002199