Welcome to Margaret Duffy’s homepage. I am a PhD candidate in MIT’s department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences (EAPS). I am studying in the Program for Oceans, Atmospheres, and Climates (PAOC) and am advised by Professor Paul O’Gorman.

Margaret Duffy’s CV

Research Interests


My thesis is focused on the dynamics of tropical rainfall and the general circulation of the tropical atmosphere. I have a few additional research areas of research or proposed research, all described below.

1. Response of tropical rainfall to climate change: Changes in tropical rainfall may greatly impact society, yet the dynamics underlying these changes are not agreed upon. I am interested in understanding the dynamics that set the response of tropical precipitation to climate change over land and over oceans. In particular, I am interested in the use of energy budgets in understanding these dynamics.

Duffy, M.L., O’Gorman, P.A., and Back, L.E 2020 Importance of Laplacian of low-level warming for the response of precipitation to climate change over tropical oceans Journal of Climate.

A talk (video) I gave on this work at UW Madison’s AOS Colloquium (Nov. 2019).

2. Understanding the gross moist stability of the atmosphere: The gross moist stability of the atmosphere is an elusive measure of a tropical circulation’s import or export of moist static energy. I am interested in better understanding this quantity by relating it to observations.

Duffy, M.L. and Back, L.E.: Relating the vertical gross moist stability to SST and SST gradients (in prep).

3. The weakening of the Walker circulation with climate change: The Walker circulation is an east-west circulation coupled to ENSO. Models tend to show a weakening of the Walker circulation, with disagreement on the strength of the weakening and some models giving a strengthening. Observations tend to show a strengthening of the Walker circulation with climate change. I am interested in understanding the discrepancies across models.

4. Statistics of extreme events: Statistical techniques, such as extreme value theory, are often utilized to study climate extremes, for which data is often limited. I am interested in best practices for applying these techniques to study climate extremes.

Wehner, M.F., Duffy, M.L., et al.: On the uncertainty of long-period return values of extreme daily precipitation (in review with Advances in Statistical Climatology, Meteorology, and Oceanography).

5. Dynamics of weather extremes: Extreme events are changing with climate change. I am interested in understanding the dynamics behind these extremes and their response to climate change.

6. The distribution of copper in the oceans: Copper, a trace metal in the oceans, is very important to marine life. I am interested in understanding what sets these concentrations of free and dissolved copper.


Teaching experience and extracurricular activities

Teaching experience

Teaching Practice Certificate Program, MIT Teaching and Learning Lab (Summer 2020)

Teaching Assistant: MIT 12.885/12.385 Science, Politics, and Environmental Policy (Fall 2018)

Teaching Assistant: MIT 12.003 Introduction to Atmosphere, Ocean, and Climate Dynamics (Fall 2017)

Tutor: Haverford College Calculus Resource Center (3 semesters)

Student Grader: Haverford College MATH 105 Applied Modeling with Calculus (2 semesters), MATH 103 Introduction to Probability and Statistics (1 semester)

Departmental Service: Graduate student advisory group to faculty search committee, PAOC Colloquium committee, EAPS Mentor, EAPS Student Advisory Council, PAOC Retreat committee, EAPS Departmental Admitted Student Open House committee, Graduate residence advisor (formerly graduate residence tutor) in McCormick Hall