Dr Damian Murphy: BSc (Hons), MSc, PhD

Research interests

The atmosphere moves in mysterious ways and my research has long been involved in trying to understand that movement, which is technically known as atmospheric dynamics. I came into this field through a remote sensing group at the University of Adelaide that used and developed atmospheric radars. These systems are now sophisticated enough to give us regular wind measurements at a range of heights through the lower and middle atmosphere. Investigations of atmospheric dynamics and its drivers were a natural progression of my PhD research, which focussed on the flow of momentum due to waves at heights above 80km.

A post-doctoral fellowship with the Mawson Institute of Antarctic Research took me to Mawson Station for the winter of 1991 and introduced me to the challenge of radar remote sensing in Antarctica. Our program has met this challenge well with three radars now operating at Davis, sensing different parts of the polar atmosphere in different ways. Along the way I have researched waves that span large horizontal scales (planetary waves), atmospheric tides, and the localized waves generated by fronts, storms and mountains (gravity waves).

A recent focus on gravity waves has taken me into the world of atmospheric modelling. These waves are important for moving momentum around our atmosphere and, in the southern hemisphere, affect the background atmospheric structure in which the ozone hole forms. They are too small to appear naturally in climate models so they have to be introduced through a scheme called a parameterization. Recent observations of gravity waves have highlighted some of the shortcomings of existing parameterizations, something we need to fix if we are to be able to accurately model the ozone hole.

The ozone-hole induced changes in the dynamics of the stratosphere flow down to the earth’s surface to affect southern Australian weather in spring and summer. My work on parameterizations with colleagues in the USA, UK, Japan and Australia, which straddles the worlds of observation and modelling, will help us predict these and other changes to our weather and climate.

Current projects

High-latitude gravity wave processes and their parameterization in climate models (#4445)

International/national collaborations

  • Member — Scientific Committee on Atmospheric Research (SCAR) Action Group - Antarctic Gravity Wave Instrument Network (ANGWIN)
  • National Center for Atmospheric Research, USA
  • Utah State University, USA
  • University of Tokyo, Japan
  • National Institute of Polar Research, Japan
  • Met Office, UK
  • Monash University, Australia
  • Bureau of Meteorology, Australia

Related links


García R.R., Smith A.K., Kinnison D.E., de la Cámara A. and Murphy D.J. (2017). Modification of the Gravity Wave Parameterization in the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model: Motivation and Results Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences 74(12) 275–291. doi: 10.1175/JAS-D-16–0104.1

Murphy D.J., Alexander S.P., Klekociuk A.R., Love P.T. and Vincent R.A. (2014). Radiosonde observations of gravity waves in the lower stratosphere over Davis, Antarctica Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres 119(21) 11973–11996. doi: 10.1002/2014JD022448

Murphy D.J., Alexander S.P. and Vincent R.A. (2012). Interhemispheric dynamical coupling to the southern mesosphere and lower thermosphere. Journal of Geophysical Research 117 D08114, 14pp. doi: 10.1029/2011JD016865