Skip to main content
University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • Home
  • News
  • 13th Annual Leonard Robock Lecture Speaker Is Dr. Chris Bretherton

13th Annual Leonard Robock Lecture Speaker Is Dr. Chris Bretherton

February 29, 2024

Picture of Chris Bretherton

The UW–Madison Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences is pleased to announce Dr. Chris Bretherton as the 13th Annual Leonard Robock Lecture speaker. The lecture, “How AI is taking weather forecasting and climate modeling by storm,” is free and open to the public and takes place on Tuesday, April 9, from 7–9pm at the DeLuca Forum in the Discovery Building. A reception with refreshments and appetizers will follow the talk.

Dr. Bretherton is Senior Director of Climate Modeling at the Allen Institute for AI. His team, in collaboration with NOAA GFDL, uses machine learning trained on global cloud-resolving model output to improve the simulation of regional precipitation trends and extremes in climate models.

He is Professor Emeritus of Applied Mathematics and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington. His research group pioneered new frontiers in three-dimensional modeling of fluid flow in and around fields of clouds and developed computer code simulating cloud formation that has been used in two leading US climate models.


Computer-generated weather forecasts have become steadily more accurate over the past 50+ years, thanks to better satellite observations and powerful computers allowing more faithful, detailed representation of the complex physics of the earth system. Similar computer models are used for understanding past climates and predicting future climate change, a defining issue of the 21st century. In the past two years, AI has surpassed the skill of the best global weather forecast models. Can AI help us more skillfully model climate, even though the future will not be like the past - if so, how will it learn to predict the unseen? Can it help us plan for coming new extremes of heat, flood, drought, and rising sea levels? You’ll see promising early steps toward that vision. Indeed, within a few years, AI may become a backbone of weather and climate modeling, saving time and money and making reliable, customized, local climate change information much more broadly accessible to the interested public.

About the Leonard Robock Lecture Series

This annual public lecture series is sponsored by the UW–Madison Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences and made possible by a generous gift from the estate of Leonard Robock. The series features an expert to present on an issue related to the public interest, such as climate change, tornadoes, hurricanes, hydrothermal vents, etc. The lecture is open to the public and aims to educate attendees on the state of our knowledge on these issues.