Brian Tang

Brian Tang

Focuses on tropical cyclone formation, intensification and interactions with the climate system

The World Within Reach



My research revolves around understanding tropical cyclones and their interactions with the synoptic environment and the general circulation.

I have studied how the entrainment of cooler, drier air at midlevels of the troposphere into a tropical cyclone acts as anti-fuel, causing the storm to weaken. The research has led to promising metrics that can be used operationally to forecast intensity changes and to diagnose model errors. The same metric also serves as a proxy in global climate models to understand how the large-scale environment may affect tropical cyclone statistics in the future.

On a similar note, I have studied how dry air negatively impacts the genesis of tropical disturbances by seeking to quantify the timescale for development in an axisymmetric hurricane model. Slower development was associated with greater downdraft activity due to higher evaporation rates.

Using atmospheric reanalysis data and a tracking algorithm, I created a 30-year tropical disturbances database to study the seasonal variability of disturbances and genesis rates. There are a number of fascinating features and applications of the disturbance climatology that have yet to be analyzed and utilized.

Understanding the two-way interaction between tropical cyclones and the tropical/midlatitude climate is a hot topic in tropical meteorology. Is there a constraint on the number of tropical cyclones or, more generally, organized cloud clusters in the tropics through some self-regulating mechanism? What is the aggregate effect of tropical cyclones on the seasonal climate and what are the physical linkages? How do large-scale air masses influence the development of tropical cyclones regionally and how may these influences change with climate change?


2010, Ph.D., Atmospheric Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
2004, B.S., Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, UCLA
2004, B.S., Applied Mathematics with a specialization in Computing, UCLA

Research Interests

My research focuses on aspects of tropical cyclones, including their formation, intensification, and interaction with other components of the climate system. I am interested in how vertical wind shear weakens tropical cyclones through ventilation, how tropospheric moisture affects the development of tropical disturbances, and what sets the variability of tropical disturbances and genesis productivity globally and regionally.


Tang, B. and K. Emanuel, 2012: A ventilation index for tropical cyclones. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 93, 1901-1912.

Tang, B. and K. Emanuel, 2012: Sensitivity of tropical cyclone intensity to ventilation in an axisymmetric model. J. Atmos. Sci., 69, 2394-2413.

Evans, C, H. Archambault, J. Cordeira, C. Fritz, T. Galarneau Jr., S. Gjorgjievska, K. Griffin, A. Johnson, W. Komaromi, S. Monette, P. Muradyan, B. Murphy, M. Riemer, J. Sears, D. Stern, B. Tang, and S. Thompson, 2012: The PRE-Depression Investigation of Cloud-systems in the Tropics (PREDICT) field campaign: Perspectives of early career scientists. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 93, 173–187.

Tang, B. and K. Emanuel, 2010: Midlevel ventilation's constraint on tropical cyclone intensity. J. Atmos. Sci., 67, 1817-1830.

Tang, B. and J. D. Neelin, 2004: ENSO influence on Atlantic hurricanes via tropospheric warming. Geophys. Res. Lett., 31, L24204, doi:10.1029/2004GL021072.