Kerry A. Emanuel

Professor Emeritus

Contact Info:

Office Phone






Alma Pellecer 617.324.1960

Prominent meteorologist and climate scientist specializing in moist convection in the atmosphere and hurricane physics. 

Kerry Emanuel is a prominent meteorologist and climate scientist who specializes in moist convection in the atmosphere, and tropical cyclones. His research interests focus on tropical meteorology and climate, with a specialty in hurricane physics. His interests also include cumulus convection, the role of clouds, water vapor, and upper-ocean mixing in regulation of climate, and advanced methods of sampling the atmosphere in aid of numerical weather prediction.

Emanuel received an S.B. degree in Earth and Planetary Sciences and a Ph.D. in Meteorology (1978) both from MIT. After completing his doctorate, he joined the faculty of the Atmospheric Sciences department of the University of California at Los Angeles where he remained for three years, with a brief hiatus filming tornadoes in Oklahoma and Texas.

In 1981 he joined the faculty of the Department of Meteorology at MIT and was promoted to Full Professor in 1987 in what had since becomes the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS). In 1989 he assumed directorship of EAPS Center for Meteorology and Physical Oceanography, a post he held until 1997. Subsequently he chaired the EAPS Program in Atmospheres, Oceans, and Climate from 2009 to 2012. He is co-founder of the MIT Lorenz Center, a climate think tank which fosters creative approaches to learning how climate works.

Professor Emanuel is the author or co-author of over 200 peer-reviewed scientific papers, and three books, including Divine Wind: The History and Science of Hurricanes, published by Oxford University Press, and What We Know about Climate Change, published by the MIT Press. Emanuel is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the British Royal Society. In addition, as a fellow of the American Meteorological Society, Emanuel has earned numerous honors from the organization, including the Bernhard Haurwitz Lectureship, the Louis J. Battan Author’s Award, the Carl-Gustaf Rossby Research Medal, The Banner I. Miller Award, and the Meisinger Award.

Key Awards & Honors

  • 2020 • Foreign Member, British Royal Society
  • 2019 • Member, American Philosophical Society
  • 2017 • Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • 2007 • Member, National Academy of Sciences
  • 1995 • Fellow, American Meteorological Society

Key Publications

  • Emanuel, K., (2023) Limitations of reanalyses for detecting tropical cyclone trendsNature Climate Change, DOI: 10.1038/s41558-023-01879-y.

  • Emanuel, K. (2005) Increasing destructiveness of tropical cyclones over the past 30 years. Nature 436, 686–688. DOI:  10.1038/nature03906

  • Emanuel, K. A., (1986) An Air-Sea Interaction Theory for Tropical Cyclones. Part I: Steady-State Maintenance. J. Atmos. Sci.43, 585–605, DOI: 10.1175/1520-0469(1986)043<0585:AASITF>2.0.CO;2.