Flavio Lehner

Assistant Professor
Earth and Atmospheric Sciences


Flavio Lehner obtained a PhD in Climate Science from the University of Bern in Switzerland in 2013. After a brief engagement as Science Officer in the Technical Support Unit for the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, he joined the Climate and Global Dynamics Lab at NCAR with a fellowship from the Swiss National Science Foundation in 2014. Being awarded a NOAA postdoc fellowship, he continued on in NCAR’s Research Applications Lab. He then transitioned to a Project Scientist position at NCAR, leading and co-leading projects across NCAR labs. For the past year Flavio has been working as a Senior Scientist at ETH Zürich in Switzerland, before joining Cornell as an Assistant Professor in fall of 2020.

Research Interests

Dr. Lehner’s research investigates the influence of internal and externally-forced variability on our ability to understand and project climate change on global to regional scales. It aims to improve our understanding of the dynamics that govern this variability and hence the uncertainties involved in climate projections.

He is interested in questions such as: Why are climate projections uncertain? Can we reduce this uncertainty by improving models through dissection and better understanding of the physical processes involved? What are the dynamic and thermodynamic contributions to regional changes in temperature and precipitation and its associated impacts such as heatwaves, droughts and compounded extreme events? How do ongoing and projected changes impact society, ecosystems and natural resources that humans depend on?

His toolbox includes analysis of coupled climate, atmosphere-only, and hydrologic model simulations, climate reconstructions, and observations. His motivation to solve not only disciplinary but also interdisciplinary problems has led to a broad set of applications from paleoclimate reconstructions to hydroclimate impact studies, allowing him to build an extensive network of collaborators at the intersection of fundamental science and applications.

Teaching Interests

  • Climate dynamics
  • Environmental physics

Selected Publications

  • Lehner, F., C. Deser, N. Maher, J. Marotzke, E. Fischer, L. Brunner, R. Knutti, E. Hawkins (2020): Partitioning climate projection uncertainty with multiple Large Ensembles and CMIP5/6. Earth System Dynamics
  • Lehner, F., A. W. Wood, J. A. Vano, D. M. Lawrence, M. P. Clark, J. S. Mankin (2019): The potential to reduce uncertainty in regional runoff projections from climate models. Nature Climate Change
  • Lehner, F., S. Coats, T. F. Stocker, B. M. Sanderson, A. G. Pendergrass, C. C. Raible, J. E. Smerdon (2017): Projected drought risk in 1.5°C and 2°C warmer climates. Geophysical Research Letters
  • Lehner, F., C. Deser, L. Terray (2017): Towards a new estimate of “time of emergence” of anthropogenic warming: insights from dynamical adjustment and a large initial-condition model ensemble. Journal of Climate

Selected Awards and Honors

  • 2019 US CLIVAR Early Career Scientist Leadership Award
  • 2016 NOAA Postdoc Applying Climate Expertise (PACE) Fellowship
  • 2014 Swiss National Science Foundation Early Postdoc Mobility Fellowship
  • 2013 WMO Research Award for Young Scientists


  • PhD (Climate Science), University of Bern, Switzerland, 2013
  • Msc (Climate Science), University of Bern, Switzerland, 2009
  • Bsc (Geography/Climatology), University of Basel, Switzerland, 2007