The Life Academic

A. John Arnfield

Current Academic Affiliations

Contact Information


Department of Geography, The Ohio State University , 1036 Derby Hall, 154 North Oval Mall, Columbus, OH 43210-1361, USA. Tel.: +1-614-292-2514 (messages only). Post sent to the above address will be forwarded and delayed.

The preferred contact method is by email. If you wish to send post to my home, please contact me by email to obtain the address.


Ph.D., Geography, McMaster University
M.A., Geography, McMaster University
B.A., Geography, University College of Swansea (now Swansea University)

Professional Interests

John is a physical geographer with research and teaching interests in climatology and in the atmospheric sciences. His particular focus is at the smaller end of the spectrum of climatic phenomena (microclimatology, local climatology, boundary-layer climatology, bioclimatology, topoclimatology) and, in particular, the ways in which the characteristics of the landscape control the exchanges of mass, energy and momentum between the surface and the atmosphere and contribute to the climate both of the near-surface atmosphere and the substrate beneath that surface. At this local scale the inherent spatial variability of the surface’s physical and biological properties impart a strongly geographical character to the characteristics of the exchange processes and to the climates that result.

Methodologically, much of his research has employed numerical simulation techniques, using computer platforms ranging from PCs to the high performance computing resources at the Ohio Supercomputer Center.

John’s current work, described in more detail below, is concerned with the climatology of the urban environment. This area of study presents a number of unique problems dictated by the peculiar physical environment of the city and is an appropriate area of research for a climatologist committed to the geographical tradition of human-environment interaction.

Current urban climate simulation work, employing a simple model in which windfields are parameterized and feedbacks between the urban structure and the near surface climate are represented in minimal detail, is being used to study the response of the energy budget of the total urban landscape (consisting of canyons, roofs, open and moist vegetated areas) to geometrical, materials and other surface characteristics, as well as varying synoptic situations.

Other urban climatic interests include nighttime cooling and the urban heat island, simulating heat storage within the urban fabric, radiation exchange among building facets, human energy budgets and comfort within city environments and the meso-scale simulation of the effects of urban surface characteristics at the spatially-aggregated scale on the atmospheric boundary-layer above. John is also interested in the effects of topography and surface characteristics on energy, mass and momentum exchanges and climates in non-urban settings, energy exchange between organisms (plants and animals, including humans) under different atmospheric environments, radiation climatology, all aspects of local-scale climate simulation modelling and surface parameterizations in General Circulation Models.

Prior to retirement, John taught in the areas of physical geography, climatology and human-environment interactions. Specifically, the courses he has taught included the following.

While these courses are no longer offered in the same formats in the department, additional information on them, as originally taught, can be found at the following links:

120  :  520  :  622.01  :  622.02  :  820 (numerical simulation)  :  820 (urban climate)  :  822882

John also has interests in the philosophy and methodology of science, especially as it applies to physical geography and manifests itself in issues of “geographic thought”. The seminar course listed last in the table above was taught with human geographer colleague Kevin Cox and is a core curriculum requirement for doctoral program students in Geography.

John was a past member of the International Geographical Union Commission on Climatology and a past board member and Chair of the Association of American Geographers Climate Specialty Group. He served on the Committee on Biometeorology and Aerobiology and the Board on the Urban Environment of the American Meteorological Society and was a founder member and  Secretary of the International Association for Urban Climate. John also founded CLIMLIST, an email distribution list for climate scientists, and was its moderator and administrator for 15 years. He also administered the Urban Climate List. For many years, John wrote annual Progress Reports for Progress in Physical Geography on ‘Micro- and Mesoclimatology’.

In 2002, John received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the the AAG Climate Specialty Group and, in 2010, was the recipient of the Luke Howard Award from the IAUC.

Want to Know More?

Check out John’s on-line abbreviated Curriculum Vitae by selecting the following links:

Updated: 19/09/2018