William Ka Ming Lau

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William K. M. Lau
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Born (1950-03-22) March 22, 1950 (age 73)
University of Maryland
Alma mater
University of Hong Kong (BS)
Scientific career
  • Tropical meteorology
  • Monsoon dynamics
  • Aerosol-monsoon interaction
  • Climate variability and change

William Ka Ming Lau (born 22 March 1950) is a senior scientist at the Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center, a research center at the University of Maryland and an Adjunct Professor of the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Maryland[1]. A physicist by training, his research spans over 4 decades covering a wide range of topics in climate dynamics, tropical meteorology, ocean-atmosphere coupling, aerosol-water cycle interactions, and climate variability and change. Lau conducted pioneering research on atmospheric teleconnection[2], and the global monsoon climate system [3][4]. He discovered the aerosol-monsoon regional feedback mechanism, i.e., the Elevated Heat Pump (EHP) effect that strongly modulate climate change in Asian monsoon regions [5][6]. He was the senior author of a popular research reference book, “Intraseasonal Variability in the Atmosphere-Ocean Climate System” [7]. As of November 2020, he has coauthored 297 refereed papers, with total citation = 33,932, h-index=101 [8].


Lau was born in Macau, Special Administrative Region (SAR) China. He received his early education at a grade school run by the Jesuit China missions. In 1960, his family emigrated to Hong Kong, SAR, China, where he completed his high school education in New Method College[9]. He received his BSc (Mathematics and Physics) in 1972; BSc Honors (Applied Mathematics) in 1973 from the University of Hong Kong; PhD in Atmospheric Sciences in 1977, from the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington.

Academic career

After graduating from the University of Washington, he was recruited as assistant professor at the Naval Postgraduate School (1978-1980). In 1981, he joined the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) as a civil servant scientist. At GSFC, he rose through the ranks serving as the Head of the Climate and Radiation Branch (1991-2000), Chief of the Laboratory for Atmospheres (2001-2010), and the Deputy Director for Science, Earth Science Division (2011-2014). In 2015, he retired from GSFC, and joined ESSIC. Dr. Lau frequently visits international research and academic institutions around the world to present invited lectures, keynote presentations in scientific meetings, and public speeches to promote awareness on impacts of climate change on regional weather extremes[10]. He has served on numerous national and international science steering groups, committees and review panels, including as Chair of Climate Variability (CLIVAR) monsoon panel, and member of the science steering group of Global Energy and Water Exchanges (GEWEX), World Climate Research Organization (WCRP). He was a coauthor of the chapter on Regional Climate Change [11] of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and a U.S. National Academy of Sciences report on “Himalayan Glaciers: Climate Change, Water Resources and Security [12]. In 2014-16, he served as the President of the Atmospheric Science Section of the American Geophysical Union[13].

Awards and honors

Lau has received many awards and honors for his research accomplishments and leadership, including:

  • Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), 2020
  • Axford Distinguished Lecturer Award, Asia Oceania Geophysical Society (2017) [14]
  • Honorary Professor, Peking University(2016)
  • Bromery Lecturer, Johns Hopkins University (2015) [15]
  • Honorary Professor from the School of Energy and Environment, City University of Hong Kong (2011) [16]
  • Distinguished Alumni Award, Hong Kong University (2010) [17]
  • Fellow of the American Geophysical Union (2007) [18]
  • Fellow of the American Meteorological Society (2005)
  • Distinguished Meteorologist Award, Hong Kong Observatory (2004)
  • Goddard Senior Fellow [19]
  • NASA William Nordberg Award (1999) [20]
  • Clarence Leroy Meisinger Award, American Meteorological Society [21]
  • The John Lindsay Award for Science [22]
  • William Nordberg Medal in Earth Science (1999) [23]
  • President, the Chinese-American Ocean-Atmosphere Association (1991-1992) [24]
  • NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal (1991), Goddard Senior Fellow [25]
  • American Meteorological Society Clarence Leroy Meisinger Award (1988) “for outstanding contributions enhancing our understanding of atmospheric low frequency oscillations” [26]
  • “Most Promising Young Scientist”, Tienki, Japanese Meteorological Bulletin (1988)
  • John Lindsay Award (1987), NASA/GSFC highest award in Science [27]
  • “Top ten science and technology talents in the Washington Area”, selected by Washington Technology (1987)
  • Graduate with First Class Honors, BSc (1972), and BSc Special (1973), University of Hong Kong


  1. Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center. "Lau, William (Bill)". essic.umd.edu.
  2. Lau, Ka-Ming; Chan, P. H. (1 July 1986). "Aspects of the 40–50 Day Oscillation during the Northern Summer as Inferred from Outgoing Longwave Radiation". Monthly Weather Review. 114 (7): 1354–1367. Bibcode:1986MWRv..114.1354L. doi:10.1175/1520-0493(1986)114<1354:AOTDOD>2.0.CO;2.
  3. Lau, Ka-Ming; Li, Mai-Tsun (1 February 1984). "The Monsoon of East Asia and its Global Associations—A Survey". Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. 65 (2): 114–125. Bibcode:1984BAMS...65..114L. doi:10.1175/1520-0477(1984)065<0114:TMOEAA>2.0.CO;2.
  4. Zhou, Jiayu; Lau, K.-M. (1 May 1998). "Does a Monsoon Climate Exist over South America?". Journal of Climate. 11 (5): 1020–1040. Bibcode:1998JCli...11.1020Z. doi:10.1175/1520-0442(1998)011<1020:DAMCEO>2.0.CO;2.
  5. Lau, K.-M.; Kim, K.-M. (2006). "Observational relationships between aerosol and Asian monsoon rainfall, and circulation". Geophysical Research Letters. 33 (21): L21810. Bibcode:2006GeoRL..3321810L. doi:10.1029/2006GL027546.
  6. Li, Zhanqing; Lau, W. K.-M.; Ramanathan, V.; Wu, G.; Ding, Y.; Manoj, M. G.; Liu, J.; Qian, Y.; Li, J.; Zhou, T.; Fan, J.; Rosenfeld, D.; Ming, Y.; Wang, Y.; Huang, J.; Wang, B.; Xu, X.; Lee, S.-S.; Cribb, M.; Zhang, F.; Yang, X.; Zhao, C.; Takemura, T.; Wang, K.; Xia, X.; Yin, Y.; Zhang, H.; Guo, J.; Zhai, P. M.; Sugimoto, N.; Babu, S. S.; Brasseur, G. P. (2016). "Aerosol and monsoon climate interactions over Asia". Reviews of Geophysics. 54 (4): 866–929. Bibcode:2016RvGeo..54..866L. doi:10.1002/2015RG000500.
  7. Lau, William K.-M.; Waliser, Duane E. (2012). "Intraseasonal Variability in the Atmosphere-Ocean Climate System". Springer-Verlag.
  8. "William K M Lau". scholar.google.com.
  9. "William Lau Maniac Lecture". NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
  10. "Lau, Li, Tao Find Link Between Western Wildfires and Global Warming – ESSIC-News". ESSIC News.
  11. Hesselbjerg Christensen, Jens; Kumar Kanikicharla, Krishna. "Climate Phenomena and their Relevance for Future Regional Climate Change" (PDF).
  12. "Himalayan Glaciers, Hydrology, Climate Change, and Implications for Water Security". The National Academy of Science.
  13. "About - Atmospheric Sciences". connect.agu.org.
  14. "AOGS 2017". asiaoceania.org.
  15. "Bromery Lectures". Earth & Planetary Sciences.
  16. "Prof. William Lau - Institute of Space and Earth Information Science". yumpu.com.
  17. "Distinguished Alumni Award 2019 - Event Calendar - Events - Alumni - Faculty of Science, HKU". www.scifac.hku.hk.
  18. "Fellows". American Meteorological Society.
  19. "Goddard Senior Fellows". seniorfellows.gsfc.nasa.gov.
  20. "Nordberg Awards and Lectures". scicolloq.gsfc.nasa.gov.
  21. "The Clarence Leroy Meisinger Award - Early Career". American Meteorological Society.
  22. "Lindsay Awards and Lectures". scicolloq.gsfc.nasa.gov.
  23. "Nordberg Awards and Lectures". scicolloq.gsfc.nasa.gov.
  24. "COAA - Honorary Members". www.coaaweb.org.
  25. "Goddard Senior Fellows". seniorfellows.gsfc.nasa.gov.
  26. "The Clarence Leroy Meisinger Award - Early Career". American Meteorological Society.
  27. "Lindsay Awards and Lectures". scicolloq.gsfc.nasa.gov.

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