PSD Staff List  »  Chris Fairall
Chris Fairall – Scientist
Image of Chris Fairall
Boundary Layer Observations and Process Team
Affiliation: NOAA
Phone: (303) 497-3253
Mailing Address:
NOAA/ESRL Physical Sciences Division
325 Broadway
Boulder, CO 80305

Fax: (303) 497-6181


Dr. Fairall is a research Physicist who is working to unravel the mysteries of how the ocean and atmosphere battle each other as part of the Earth's climate system from El Nino to hurricanes. He has spent decades developing and deploying air-sea interaction observing systems on NOAA ships and aircraft and has participated in nearly 50 research field programs and cruises from the Tropics to the Arctic icecap. His work is devoted to making direct measurements for verifying and improving the representation of air-sea interaction processes in weather/climate models. These measurements include such things as surface evaporation, absorption of heat, generation of waves, and uptake of carbon dioxide. Dr. Fairall is the author/coauthor of more than 190 refereed publications in more than 35 different journals; his papers currently receive about 800 citations each year. He has led in the development of technologies for the direct measurement of air-sea fluxes which has produced breakthroughs in, for example, the direct observations of air-sea exchange of carbon dioxide. Other contributions include development of the NOAA COARE community air-sea flux parameterization, major advances in the remote sensing of marine cloud microphysics, improved observations of the net radiative flux over the ocean, and flux parameterizations for hurricane models.

Research Interests

  • coupled air-sea interaction processes
  • oceanic/atmospheric boundary layers
  • representation turbulent/cloud processes in models


  • B.S., Physics, Florida State Universion, Dec 1966
  • Ph.D., Physics, Michigan State University, Aug 1970

Professional Memberships

  • American Geophysical Union
  • The Oceanography Society
  • American Meteorological Society

Honors and Awards

  • Fellow of the American Meteorological Society
  • Fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environment Sciences
  • NOAA Administrator’s Award
  • OAR Outstanding Scientific Paper (2)
  • Sverdrup Gold Medal, American Meteorology Society