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Toby R. Ault

  • Toby R. Ault
  • Dept: Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
  • Title: Assistant Professor
  • Address: 1113 Bradfield Hall
  • Phone: 607 255-1509
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Toby Ault is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.  He was most recently a postdoctoral fellow in the Advanced Studies Program at NCAR (Boulder, CO).

Research Interests

Toby's Emergent Climate Risk Lab (ECRL)

Coping with climate change during this century will require us to build new tools for anticipating "emergent" climate risks--i.e., hazards whose likelihood cannot be easily inferred from the historical record because they are the consequence of both natural climatic variations and climate change. Obvious examples of these kinds of hazards are heat waves, rainfall events, and severe or prolonged droughts. Even when underlying climatic influences are relatively minor however, phenomena with strong ecological or economic consequences can result. For example, small changes in spring and fall temperatures may have large implications on the growing season. This in turn influences the spread of certain pests and diseases, effecting both agricultural yields and human health. Thus far, Dr. Ault's research has coalesced around three areas of inquiry related to emergent climate risks: (1) estimating the risk of prolonged drought under climate change; (2) understanding the dynamics of seasonality, particularly spring; and (3) characterizing variations in the Tropical Pacific on timescales of decades to centuries, and their influence on global climate. His methods entail data synthesis from observational sources as well as numerical and statistical modeling. The nature of his work is therefore highly interdisciplinary, affording him the opportunity to collaborate closely not only with climate scientists and modelers, but with colleagues in many other disciplines, including geography, paleoclimatology, and ecology.

Teaching Interests:

Tropical Meteorology


Selected Publications:

Ault, T.R., G.M. Henebry, K.M. de Beurs, M.D. Schwartz, J.L. Betancourt, David Moore (2013): The False Spring of 2012,Earliest in the North American Record. EOS, 94, 181-183, doi; 0.1002/2013EO200001.

Ault, T.R., C. Deser, M. Newman, and J. Emile-Geay (2013): Characterizing decadal to centennial variability in the equatorial Pacific during the last millennium. Geophysical Research Letters, doi; 10.1002/grl.50647.

Ault, T.R., J.E. Cole, and S. St. George, (2012): The amplitude of decadal to multidecadal variability in precipitation simulated by state-of-the-art climate models. Geophysical Research Letters, 39 (21), L21 705, doi;10.1029/2012GL053424.

Ault, T.R., J.E. Cole, G.T. Pederson, J.T, Overpeck, S. St. George, B. Otto-Bliesner, C. Deser, and C. Woodhouse (2013): The continuum of hydroclimate variability in western North America during the last millennium.  Journal of Climate 26/16, 5863- 5878, doi; 10.1175/JCLI-D-11-00732.1.

Cook, B.I., E.M. Wolkovich, J.T. Davies, T.R. Ault, J.L. Betancourt, J.M. Allen, K. Bolmgren, E.E. Cleland, T.M. Crimmins, N.J.B. Kraft, L.T. Lancaster, S.J. Mazer,  G.J. McCabe, B.J. McGill, C.P., S. Pau, J. Regetz, N. Salamin, M.D. Schwartz, S.E. Travers. Sensitivity of spring phenology to warming across temporal and spatial climate gradients in two independent databases.  Ecosystems, 15, 1283-1294, doi;10.1007/s10021-012-9584-5.

Selected Honors and Awards:

Advanced Study Program Fellow (2011-present), National Center for Atmospheric Research


  • PhD in Geoscience, University of Arizona, 2011
  • MS in Geoscience, University of Arizona, 2006
  • BS in Mathematics, University of Puget Sound, 2002