Auroop Gan­guly, an asso­ciate pro­fessor of civil and envi­ron­mental engi­neering at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, studies cli­mate change and extreme weather events — such as hur­ri­canes, rain­fall and heat waves — from an inter­dis­ci­pli­nary perspective.

Expanding his research beyond the sci­ence of cli­mate change and devel­oping data-​​driven cli­mate assess­ments, Gan­guly focuses on how climate-​​related extreme events affect water sus­tain­ability, how com­mu­ni­ties adapt to and mit­i­gate the effects of severe storms and floods and how gov­ern­ment offi­cials could use cli­mate and weather research to make sound policy decisions.

Knowing whether melting Arctic Sea ice is opening up new nav­i­gable path­ways for sea­faring ves­sels has the poten­tial to shape national secu­rity poli­cies, Gan­guly noted, dis­cussing prior work he led for the U.S. Depart­ment of Defense. As he put it, “All these issues are interrelated.”

Gan­guly, who joined Northeastern’s fac­ulty in the fall, recently led a new study that explored extreme rain­fall events during mon­soons in India.

The research team found that the fre­quency or inten­sity of extreme rain­fall events over the last 50 years has not increased on the average, but that there has been a steady and sig­nif­i­cant rise in the spa­tial vari­ability of Indian rain­fall extremes. Spa­tial vari­ability is a sta­tis­tical mea­sure of how much extreme rain­fall at one par­tic­ular geo­graphic loca­tion dif­fers from that of another.

Spa­tial vari­ability can dras­ti­cally com­pli­cate policy issues and water– and flood– hazard man­age­ment in the affected regions, he said.

We know there is global warming, but this won’t impact each and every­thing in a sim­ilar way,” Gan­guly said. “In some cases, regional processes will dom­i­nate. So in the con­text of Indian rain­fall, there are things like urban­iza­tion, defor­esta­tion and changes in land use that may be more rel­e­vant to explaining this trend. Are these con­tributing along with global warming? That’s what we’re inter­ested in.”

The find­ings were pub­lished online on Dec. 18 in the journal Nature Cli­mate Change. Gan­guly led an inter­dis­ci­pli­nary team of researchers from the Indian Insti­tute of Tech­nology Bombay, Temple Uni­ver­sity and the Oak Ridge National Lab­o­ra­tory (ORNL) in Ten­nessee, where Gan­guly worked before coming to North­eastern. ORNL and the Indian gov­ern­ment par­tially funded the research effort.

Our find­ings high­light the need for sys­tem­atic exam­i­na­tion of global versus regional dri­vers of trends in Indian rain­fall extremes, and this may help to inform flood hazard pre­pared­ness and water resource man­age­ment in the region,” the researchers wrote. The data-​​driven methods can be adapted to other regions of the world, both for obser­va­tions and for model simulations.

Gan­guly is a co-​​principal inves­ti­gator of a larger research team, led by the Uni­ver­sity of Min­nesota and funded by the National Sci­ence Foundation’s Expe­di­tions in Com­puting pro­gram, that has been devel­oping new data-​​driven methods for under­standing cli­mate change. The project’s focus on remotely sensed obser­va­tions and climate-​​model sim­u­la­tions is expected to fuel major inno­va­tions in com­pu­ta­tional and data-​​intensive sciences.

Data-​​driven methods for under­standing cli­mate change can help address large sci­ence gaps with major soci­etal rel­e­vance,” Gan­guly said.

View selected pub­li­ca­tions of Auroop Gan­guly in IRis, Northeastern’s dig­ital archive.