Pfahl, Stephan, Dr.

Dr.  Stephan Pfahl

CHN  M 18 

Universitätstrasse 16

8092 Zürich


  • phone +41 44 632 93 65 
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Additional information

Additional information

Research interests

  • Extratropical atmospheric dynamics
  • Extreme weather events
  • Atmospheric water cycle
  • Stable water isotopes


Researcher-ID: G-4194-2014

Submitted articles

  • Büeler D. and Pfahl S., 2017. Potential vorticity diagnostics to quantify effects of latent heating in extratropical cyclones. Part I: Methodology. J. Atmos. Sci., submitted.
  • Pfahl S., O'Gorman P.A., and Fischer E.M., 2016. Understanding the regional pattern of changes in extreme precipitation in a warming climate, in revision.
  • Sodemann H., Aemisegger F., Pfahl S., Bitter M., Corsmeier U., Feuerle T., Graf P., Hankers R., Hsiao G., Schulz H., Wieser A., and Wernli H., 2016. The stable isotope composition of water vapour above Corsica during the HyMeX SOP1: insight into vertical mixing processes from lower-tropospheric survey flights. Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., doi:10.5194/acp-2016-728.

Peer reviewed journals


  • Röthlisberger M., Pfahl S., and Martius O., 2016. Regional-scale jet waviness modulates the occurrence of mid-latitude weather extremes. Geophys. Res. Lett. 43, 10989–10997, doi:10.1002/2016GL070944.
  • Martius O., Pfahl S., and Chevalier C., 2016. A global quantification of compound precipitation and wind extremes. Geophys. Res. Lett. 43, 7709–7717, doi:10.1002/2016GL070017.
  • Dütsch M., Pfahl S. and Wernli H., 2016. Variations of δ2H in an idealized extratropical cyclone. Geophys. Res. Lett. 43, 5401–5408, doi:10.1002/2016GL068600.
  • Pfahl S. and Sprenger M., 2016. On the relationship between extratropical cyclone precipitation and intensity. Geophys. Res. Lett. 43, 1752–1758, doi:10.1002/2016GL068018.
  • Papritz L. and Pfahl S., 2016. Importance of latent heating in mesocyclones for the decay of cold air outbreaks: A numerical process study from the Pacific sector of the Southern Ocean. Mon. Weather Rev. 144, 315–336, doi:10.1175/MWR-D-15-0268.1.
  • Barton Y., Giannakaki P., von Waldow H., Chevalier C, Pfahl S., and Martius O., 2016. Clustering of regional-scale extreme precipitation events in southern Switzerland. Mon. Weather Rev. 144, 347–369, doi:10.1175/MWR-D-15-0205.1.


  • Pfahl S., O'Gorman P.A., and Singh M.S., 2015. Extratropical cyclones in idealized simulations of changed climates. J. Climate 28, 9373–9392, doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-14-00816.1.
  • Pfahl S., Schwierz C., Croci-Maspoli M., Grams C.M., and Wernli H., 2015. Importance of latent heat release in ascending air streams for atmospheric blocking. Nature Geosci. 8, 610-614, doi:10.1038/ngeo2487.
  • Aemisegger F., Spiegel J.K., Pfahl S., Sodemann H., Eugster W., and Wernli H., 2015. Isotope meteorology of cold front passages: a case study combining observations and modeling. Geophys. Res. Lett. 42, 5652-5660, doi:10.1002/2015GL063988.
  • Skerlak B., Sprenger M., Pfahl S., Tyrlis E., and Wernli H., 2015. Tropopause folds in ERA-Interim: global climatology and relation to extreme weather events. J. Geophys. Res. 120, 4860-4877, doi:10.1002/2014JD022787.
  • Santos J.A., Pfahl S., Pinto J.G., and Wernli H., 2015. Mechanisms underlying temperature extremes in Iberia: a Lagrangian perspective. Tellus A 67, 26032, doi:10.3402/tellusa.v67.26032.
  • Bieli M., Pfahl S., and Wernli H., 2015. A Lagrangian investigation of hot and cold temperature extremes in Europe. Q. J. R. Meteorol. Soc. 141, 98-108, doi:10.1002/qj.2339.
  • Papritz L., Pfahl S., Sodemann H., and Wernli H., 2015. A climatology of cold air outbreaks and their impact on air-sea heat fluxes in the high-latitude South Pacific. J. Climate 28, 342–364, doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-14-00482.1.


  • Papritz L., Pfahl S., Rudeva I., Simmonds I., Sodemann H., and Wernli H., 2014. The role of extratropical cyclones and fronts for Southern Ocean freshwater fluxes. J. Climate 27, 6205-6224, doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-13-00409.1.
  • Grams C.M., Binder H., Pfahl S., Piaget N., and Wernli H., 2014. Atmospheric processes triggering the central European floods in June 2013. Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci. 14, 1691-1702, doi:10.5194/nhess-14-1691-2014.
  • Pfahl S., 2014. Characterising the relationship between weather extremes in Europe and synoptic circulation features. Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci. 14, 1461-1475, doi:10.5194/nhess-14-1461-2014.
  • Winschall A., Pfahl S., Sodemann H., and Wernli H., 2014. Comparison of Eulerian and Lagrangian moisture source diagnostics - the flood event in eastern Europe in May 2010. Atmos. Chem. Phys. 14, 6605–6619, doi:10.5194/acp-14-6605-2014.
  • Winschall A., Sodemann H., Pfahl S., and Wernli H., 2014. How important is intensified evaporation for Mediterranean precipitation extremes? J. Geophys. Res. 119, 5240–5256, doi:10.1002/2013JD021175.
  • Aemisegger F., Pfahl S., Sodemann H., Lehner I., Seneviratne S., and Wernli H., 2014. Deuterium excess as a proxy for continental moisture recycling and plant transpiration. Atmos. Chem. Phys. 14, 4029-4054, doi:10.5194/acp-14-4029-2014.
  • Pfahl S. and Sodemann H., 2014. What controls deuterium excess in global precipitation? Clim. Past, 10, 771-781, doi:10.5194/cp-10-771-2014.
  • Pfahl S., Madonna E., Boettcher M., Joos H., and Wernli H., 2014. Warm conveyor belts in the ERA-Interim data set (1979-2010). Part II: Moisture origin and relevance for precipitation. J. Climate 27, 27-40, doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-13-00223.1.


  • Miltenberger A. K., Pfahl S. and Wernli H., 2013. An online trajectory module (version 1.0) for the nonhydrostatic numerical weather prediction model COSMO. Geosci. Model Dev. 6, 1989-2004 doi:10.5194/gmd-6-1989-2013.
  • Catto J.L. and Pfahl S., 2013. The importance of fronts for extreme precipitation. J. Geophys. Res. 118, 10791–10801, doi:10.1002/jgrd.50852.
  • Martius O., Sodemann H., Joos H., Pfahl S., Winschall A., Croci-Maspoli M., Graf M., Madonna E., Mueller B., Schemm S., Sedlacek J., Sprenger M. and Wernli H., 2013. The role of upper-level dynamics and surface processes for the Pakistan flood in July 2010. Q. J. R. Meteorol. Soc. 139, 1780–1797, doi:10.1002/qj.2082.


  • Pfahl S. and Wernli H., 2012. Quantifying the relevance of cyclones for precipitation extremes. J. Climate 25, 6770-6780, doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-11-00705.1.
  • Winschall A., Pfahl S., Sodemann H. and Wernli H., 2012. Impact of North Atlantic evaporation hot spots on southern Alpine heavy precipitation events. Q. J. R. Meteorol. Soc. 138, 1245-1258, doi:10.1002/qj.987.
  • Pfahl S. and Wernli H., 2012. Quantifying the relevance of atmospheric blocking for co-located temperature extremes in the Northern Hemisphere on (sub-)daily time scales. Geophys. Res. Lett. 39, L12807, doi:10.1029/2012GL052261.
  • Aemisegger F., Sturm P., Graf P., Sodemann H., Pfahl S., Knohl A. and Wernli H., 2012. Measuring variations of δ18O and δ2H in atmospheric water vapour using two commercial laser-based spectrometers: an instrument characterisation study. Atmos. Meas. Tech. 5, 1491-1511, doi:10.5194/amt-5-1491-2012.
  • Sirocko F., Brunck H. and Pfahl S., 2012. Solar influence on winter severity in central Europe. Geophys. Res. Lett. 39, L16704, doi:10.1029/2012GL052412.
  • Pfahl S., Wernli H. and Yoshimura K., 2012. The isotopic composition of precipitation from a winter storm - a case study with the limited-area model COSMOiso. Atmos. Chem. Phys. 12, 1629-1648, doi:10.5194/acp-12-1629-2012.
  • Pfahl S. and Wernli H., 2012. Spatial coherency of extreme weather events in Germany and Switzerland. Int. J. Climatol. 32, 1863–1874, doi:10.1002/joc.2401.


  • Pfahl S. and Niedermann N., 2011. Daily co-variations in near-surface relative humidity and temperature over the ocean. J. Geophys. Res. 116, D19104, doi:10.1029/2011JD015792.
  • Schäfler A., Dörnbrack A., Wernli H., Kiemle C. and Pfahl S., 2011. Airborne lidar observations in the inflow region of a warm conveyor belt. Q. J. R. Meteorol. Soc. 137, 1257-1272, doi:10.1002/qj.827.
  • Leimer S., Pohlert T., Pfahl S. and Wilcke W., 2011. Towards a new generation of high-resolution meteorological input data for small-scale hydrologic modeling. J. Hydrol. 402 (3-4), 317-332, doi:10.1016/j.jhydrol.2011.03.026.


  • Wernli H., Pfahl S., Trentmann J. and Zimmer M., 2010. How representative were the meteorological conditions during the COPS field experiment in summer 2007? Meteorol. Z. 19 (6), 619-630, doi:10.1127/0941-2948/2010/0483.
  • Pfahl S. and Wernli H., 2009. Lagrangian simulations of stable isotopes in water vapor - an evaluation of non-equilibrium fractionation in the Craig-Gordon model. J. Geophys. Res. 114, D20108, doi:10.1029/2009JD012054.
  • Pfahl S., Sirocko F., Seelos K., Dietrich S., Walter A. and Wernli H., 2009. A new windstorm proxy from lake sediments - a comparison of geological and meteorological data from western Germany for the period 1965-2001. J. Geophys. Res. 114, D18106, doi:10.1029/2008JD011643.
  • Pfahl S. and Wernli H., 2008. Air parcel trajectory analysis of stable isotopes in water vapor in the eastern Mediterranean. J. Geophys. Res. 113, D20104, doi:10.1029/2008JD009839.
  • Xing X., Pfahl S., Mukhopadhyay S., Goldbart P.M. and Zippelius A., 2008. Nematic elastomers: From a microscopic model to macroscopic elasticity theory. Phys. Rev. E 77, 051802, doi:10.1103/PhysRevE.77.051802.


  • Pfahl S., 2009. Exploring physical processes related to past climate proxies: lake sediments and stable water isotopes, PhD thesis, University of Mainz.
  • Wernli H. and Pfahl S., 2009. Grundlagen des Klimas und extremer Wettersituationen, in Wetter, Klima, Menschheitsentwicklung: Von der Eiszeit bis ins 21. Jahrhundert, edited by F. Sirocko, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt, Germany.
  • Pfahl S., 2005. Nematische Elastomere - ein mikroskopisches Modell, Diploma thesis, University of Göttingen.

Course Catalogue

Spring Semester 2017

Number Unit
701-1224-00L Mesoscale Atmospheric Systems - Observation and Modelling 
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Wed Mar 01 20:27:01 CET 2017
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