Community Faces: Anthony Lupo

MU professor studies the workings of El Niño
and predicts the frequency of hurricanes
Sunday, July 31, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 3:00 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Anthony Lupo has wanted to understand weather since he was 7 years old.

“Thunderstorms fascinated me,” Lupo said. “I became very interested in how the weather works.”

An associate professor in MU’s atmosphere science department, Lupo chiefly studies large-scale atmosphere dynamics and climate dynamics. More specifically, he studies how El Niño – a warm current of water that appears every few years in the eastern Pacific Ocean – affects weather in mid-Missouri. Lupo said El Niño brings warmer winters to Missouri, with less snow for southern Missouri but more snow for the northern part of the state.

Lupo, born and raised in Auburn, N.Y. has a bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York in Oswego, and master’s and doctoral degrees from Purdue University in atmospheric science. His research for his doctorate, which he earned in 1995, centered on large-scale atmosphere dynamics — for example, hurricanes.

Later, during post-doctoral research at the State University of New York in Albany, he specialized in blocking. Blocking is a phenomenon in which the normal eastward progression of weather systems in the atmosphere ceases, typically due to a large stationary high-pressure system. Blocking can lead to prolonged periods of either fine or unsettled weather, depending on the location of the block.

Last summer, Lupo went to Moscow as a Fulbright scholar, studying how climate changes affect blocking in the jet stream. He collaborated with scientists at the Russian Academy of Science.

“They treated me very well,” Lupo said. “I liked Moscow.”

He and his team have done extensive research on the frequency of hurricanes and have predicted an increase in hurricanes from 2000 to 2020. He said that doesn’t mean more hurricanes will strike land, only that there is a better chance of their developing over the ocean.

Even though Missouri is far from a coastline, a busy hurricane season does affect the state’s weather, Lupo said. A hurricane that moves ashore at Texas or Louisiana can bring rain to Missouri; a dying storm can make its way into the western part of the state.

When he is not working, Lupo, 39, likes to spend time with his three daughters – Mary, 11, Grace, 9, and Katie, 7. He enjoys playing softball and coaches one of his daughters’ softball teams. Lupo also reads a lot and is especially interested in Civil War history. His wife, Allison Lupo, will start working as a chef this fall at her daughters’ school, Columbia Catholic School.

Lupo loves living in Columbia. “It’s a slower pace of life than the East Coast,” he said, “and is a great place to raise a family.”

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