2010 Physical Sciences Review » Biographies » Dr. Fred Martin (Marty) Ralph

Dr. Fred Martin (Marty) Ralph

Dr. Fred Martin (Marty) Ralph

Dr. Fred Martin (Marty) Ralph

Chief, Water Cycle Branch

Physical Sciences Division


Dr. F. Martin Ralph is a research meteorologist who has studied mesoscale and synoptic scale phenomena and how they are affected by climate variability. A key area of interest is exploring how to best observe the atmosphere, with an emphasis on advancing the physical understanding of extreme precipitation processes as well as related hydrometeorological predictions and climate projections. He is currently the Program Manager of NOAA's Weather & Water/Science, Technology and Infusion Program and Chief of the Water Cycle Branch at NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory/Physical Sciences Division. He is a Research Associate at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.


  • B. S. (Meteorology) University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, 1984
  • M. S. (Atmospheric Sciences), University of California at Los Angeles, 1987
  • Ph.D. (Atmospheric Sciences), University of California at Los Angeles, 1991

Research Interests

A major goal is to better understand, monitor, and predict key elements of the global water cycle including water vapor transport, precipitation and runoff. Scientific understanding of atmospheric rivers, which are critical to both the global water cycle and to the distribution of precipitation and flooding in key parts of the world, is a major thrust. Using these results to provide reliable regional climate projections of flooding and water supplies in several areas of the world, and in short-term precipitation forecasting are desired outcomes.


Dr. Ralph has published over 50 peer-reviewed scientific articles, 20 as the lead author. He has helped lead the establishment of testbeds as a method to accelerate the development and infusion of new science and technology into weather and climate forecasting operations. He has developed new projects, experiments and teams on several subjects, most having to do with observations, physical understanding, and precipitation. Awards include:

  • Elected Fellow of the American Meteorological Society
  • Department of Commerce Silver Medal & Bronze Medal (2),
  • NOAA Administrator's Award (2)
  • OAR Employee of the Year
  • OAR Outstanding Scientific Paper (3)

Recent Publications

  • Ralph, F. M., P. J., Neiman and R. Rotunno, 2005: Dropsonde observations in low-level jets over the Northeastern Pacific Ocean from CALJET-1998 and PACJET-2001: Mean vertical-profile and atmospheric-river characteristics. Mon. Wea. Rev., 133, 889-910.
  • Ralph, F. M., P. J. Neiman, G. A. Wick, S. I. Gutman, M. D. Dettinger, D. R. Cayan, and A. B. White, 2006: Flooding on California's Russian River: Role of atmospheric rivers. Geophys. Res. Lett., 33, L13801, doi:10.1029/2006GL026689.
  • Neiman, P. J., F. M. Ralph, G. A. Wick, J. D. Lundquist and M. D. Dettinger, 2008: Meteorological characteristics and overland precipitation impacts of atmospheric rivers affecting the West Coast of North America based on eight years of SSM/I satellite observations. J. Hydrometeor., 9, 22-47.
  • Lundquist, J.D., P J. Neiman, B. Martner, A.B. White, D.J. Gottas, and F.M. Ralph, 2008: Rain versus snow in the Sierra Nevada, California: Comparing radar and surface observations of melting level. J. Hydrometeor., 9,194-211.
  • Neiman, P. J., F. M. Ralph, G. A. Wick, Y.-H. Kuo, T.-K. Wee, Z. Ma, G. H. Taylor, and M. D. Dettinger, 2008: Diagnosis of an intense atmospheric river impacting the Pacific Northwest: Storm summary and offshore vertical structure observed with COSMIC satellite retrievals. Mon. Wea. Rev., 136, 4398-4420.