Antonello Provenzale



Born in 1958. Doctorate in Physics in 1987.

Research Director, Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, 

National Research Council, Torino, Italy




ISAC: Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, CNR, Torino,


GFD Core Faculty Group, WHOI





Research activity: Earth System processes and climate dynamics



Climate change and the mountain environment




My interest is on the effects of climatic and environmental variability on the mountain environment,

using data-based approaches, conceptual models and climate change impact models. Most of

these activities are part of the Project of strategic interest NextData, of the Italian Ministry of

University, Education and Research (MIUR), In particular, I focus on


1. Hydrological cycle in mountain regions


My interest is on the properties of precipitation in high-altitude areas, the dynamics of snow cover,

the response of mountain glaciers to climate variability, and the impact of climate change on

water resources. Approaches include both empirical models and physically-based glacier and

snow models. Climate change scenarios are obtained from the global climate model EC-Earth

( and, run at ISAC-CNR,

and from non-hydrostatic atmospheric models. Areas of interest are the Alpine region and the

Indu-Kush – Himalaya – Karakoram (HKKH) area, where we study the interaction between

the Indian monsoon and midlatitude western weather patterns. We have developed and

implemented stochastic downscaling methods for the precipitation estimates produced

by global and regional climate models. Many of these activities are pursued in the framework

of a research collaboration between ISAC and the Ev-K2-CNR Committee (Italy),, also in the framework of the Ev-K2-CNR SHARE project PAPRIKA

Karakoram devoted to assessing the state of the cryosphere and of water resources in the

Karakoram range. I participate in the activities of the European Climate Research Alliance

(ECRA), coordinating the Collaborative Programme Changes in the hydrological cycle" and I am a member of

the "Comitato Glaciologico Italiano (CGI)",

Part of the research activities described here are included in the national 2010 PRIN project

Innovative methods for water resources management and risk assessment under uncertainty.




2. Mountain ecosystems


My interest is on the impact of climate change on the population dynamics of selected

species (ungulates such as the Alpine ibex and chamois, birds such as Black Grouse

and Ptarmigan), the dynamics of mountain ecosystems such as high-altitude alpine

lakes, and the study of mountain biodiversity and its response to climate change.

Many of these activities are pursued in the framework of a long-standing research

collaboration between ISAC and the Gran Paradiso National Park (Italy), 

Some of these research activities are carried on in the framework of the EU FP7 project

ACQWA,, of EU-funded Interreg projects managed by ARPA

Piemonte, and of the Interreg ALCOTRA Program,









 Ecosystem dynamics and climate-biosphere interactions





Living organisms are affected by the physical environment and by climate, and, in turn, modify them,

possibly leading to the coevolution of the physical and biotic world. My research activities concern

the role of vegetation and soil moisture in determining evapotranspiration fluxes and mitigating summer

droughts at continental midlatitudes, the dynamics of the soil-vegetation system in arid and semi-arid

regions using both implicit-space and explicit-space approaches, the role of ecosystem engineers, and the

use of a hierarchy of climate models with different complexity (from Energy Balance Models to EC-Earth)

to study basic processes in climate-biosphere dynamics and planetary habitability. I am involved in the

European COST Action ES0805: TERRABITES - The Terrestrial Biosphere in the Earth System, Parallel to these activities, I am also involved in data analysis and empirical

modelling of ecosystem dynamics and population dynamics.


I participate in the activities of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), coordinating

the Ecosystems Task,









Geophysical fluid dynamics and climate processes



In past years, I have studied turbulence and coherent vortices in rotating geophysical flows,

and the effects they have on transport processes. Currently, I am interested in the basic fluid

dynamical processes of climate variability, including transport of heat and water vapor in the

atmosphere, climate predictability, the global hydrological cycle and long-term paleoclimatic

simulations. To this end, we use conceptual models (eg, 1-D EBM), simplified global climate

models such as the Planet Simulator,, and the global climate

model EC-Earth,






Dissemination and outreach, scientific documentaries:


Parallel to research activities, this group is involved in dissemination and outreach actions

including writing popular science articles, contributing to public exhibitions and participating

in the realisation of scientific documentaries. The documentary

Going North: Global warming escape route by Eugenio Manghi (2008)

is devoted to the effects of climate change on the distribution of plants and animals and

to the role of biological corridors. A 20-min version of this documentary is available for

CNR-related events. A 15-min documentary on the population dynamics of the

Black Grouse in the western Alps is also available. A picture exhibition with 60 images on

biodiversity in alpine prairies in the western Alps is available for display.

Popular articles and a booklet on climate dynamics are available (in Italian).

The volume Che cosa il Global Warming? (in Italian), for mid-school students,

was published in 2011 and it is now being translated into English for distribution

in mountain schools of northern Pakistan and Nepal.



Professional and teaching activities:


1994-2008: Coordinator of the international school

on Fundamental processes in geophysical fluid dynamics and the climate system

held every summer in Valsavarenche (Val d Aosta),


Lecturer in Atmospheric Dynamics from 2002 to 2008, 

Laurea Magistrale in Environmental Engineering of the University of Genoa,

Savona Campus. Lecturer in Physics of Climate from 2006 to 2009, Laurea

in Physics, University of Turin. Lecturer in Physics of Extended Systems

from 2009, Laurea Specialistica in Physics of Complex Systems,

University of Turin.


Member of the Doctorate Program on Fluid Dynamics at the Politecnico di Torino

and of the Doctorate Program in Physics at the University of Torino.


Invited professor at the Ben Gurion University, Beer Sheva, Israel (1996),

JILA-Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics,

University of Colorado, Boulder, MA, USA (1997),

GFD-WHOI principal lecturer, Woods Hole, MA, USA (1998),

Ecole Normale Superieure, Paris, France (2006), Universite Paris VI (2008, 2009).




Most of my work is done in collaboration with students, colleagues

and friends in many parts of the world. To all of them I am grateful.


Main collaborations:

Jost von Hardenberg, ISAC-CNR, Torino, Italy

Elisa Palazzi, ISAC-CNR, Torino, Italy

Paolo Bonasoni, Paolo Cristofanelli, Angela Marinoni, ISAC-CNR, Bologna, Italy

Vincenzo Artale, Sandro Calmanti, Paolo Ruti, ENEA UTMEA, Roma, Italy

Bruno Bassano, Achaz von Hardenberg, Ramona Viterbi, Rocco Tiberti, PNGP, Italy

Marta Chiarle, IRPI-CNR, Torino, Italy

Stefano Ferraris, University of Turin, Italy

Renata Pelosini, Christian Ronchi, Riccardo Bonanno, ARPA Piemonte, Torino, Italy

Filippo Giorgi, ICTP, Trieste, Italy

Paola Mercogliano, Marco Turco, CIRA-CMCC, Capua, Italy

Giuseppe Murante, Laura Silva, Giovanni Vladilo, Oss. Astron. di Trieste, Italy

Antonio Parodi, CIMA Foundation, Savona, Italy

Francesco Paparella, University of Salento, Italy

Claudia Pasquero, University of Milan Bicocca, Italy

Alfonso Sutera, University of Rome, Italy

Elisa Vuillermoz, URT EvK2-CNR, Bergamo, Italy

Fabio D Andrea, LMD, Ecole Normale Superieure, Paris, France

Maurice Rossi, CNRS, Paris, France

Mara Baudena, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands

Klaus Fraedrich, University of Hamburg, Germany

Fabio Cresto Aleina, University of Hamburg, Germany

Maria del Carmen Llasat, University of Barcelona, Spain

Ehud Meron, Ben Gurion University, Beer Sheva, Israel

Neil J. Balmforth, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Adnan Tahir, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Abbottabad, Pakistan

Annalisa Bracco, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, USA

Edward A Spiegel, Astronomy Dept., Columbia University, New York, USA

Jeffrey B. Weiss, PAOS, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, USA


Graduate students (updated 2012):

Donatella D Onofrio, University of Torino

Luca Filippi, University of Torino

Roberta Sciascia, Politecnico of Torino


Postdoctoral associates (updated 2012):

Cristiana Cerrato, ISAC-CNR, Torino

Letizia Congedi, ISAC-CNR, Torino

Paolo Davini, ISAC-CNR, Torino

Simona Imperio, ISAC-CNR, Torino

Alexandre Pieri, ISAC-CNR, Torino

Silvia Terzago, ISAC-CNR, Torino



Publications (from 2000):




J.B. Weiss, A. Provenzale, Editors, Transport and Mixing in Geophysical Flows, 

Lecture Notes in Physics (Springer, Berlin, 2008)


N.J. Balmforth, A. Provenzale, Editors, Geomorphological Fluid Mechanics, 

Lecture Notes in Physics (Springer, Berlin, 2001)



Scientific papers (from 2000):



F. Cresto Aleina, M. Baudena, F. D Andrea, A. Provenzale

Multiple equilibria on planet Dune:Climate-vegetation dynamics on a sandy planet

Tellus B, in press (2013)


E. Palazzi, J. von Hardenberg, A. Provenzale

Precipitation in the Hindu-Kush Karakoram Himalaya: observations and future scenarios

J. Geophys. Res. Atmospheres, in press (2013)


M. Baudena, J. von Hardenberg, A. Provenzale

Vegetation patterns and soil-atmosphere water fluxes in drylands

Advances Water Resources, in press (2013)


R. Viterbi, C. Cerrato, B. Bassano, R. Bionda, A. von Hardenberg, A. Provenzale,

G. Bogliani

Patterns of biodiversity in the northwestern Italian Alps: a multi-taxa approach

Community Ecology, in press (2013)


R. Sciascia, S. DeMonte, A. Provenzale

Physics of sinking and selection of plankton cell size

Physics Letters A, in press (2013)


U. Magnea, R. Sciascia, F. Paparella, R. Tiberti, A. Provenzale

A model for high-altitude alpine lake ecosystems and the effect of introduced fish

Ecological Modelling, in press (2013)


A. Mignatti, R. Casagrandi, A. von Hardenberg, M. Gatto, A. Provenzale

Sex- and age-structured models for Alpine ibex Capra ibex ibex population dynamics

Wildlife Biology, 18, 318-332 (2012)


M. Turco, M. Carmen Llasat, J. von Hardenberg, A. Provenzale

Impact of climate variability on summer fires in a Mediterranean environment

(northeastern Iberian peninsula)

Climatic Change, DOI 10.1007/s10584-012-0505-6 (2012)


S. Imperio, S. Focardi, G. Santini, A. Provenzale

Population dynamics in a guild of four Mediterranean ungulates:

density-dependence, environmental effects and inter-specific interactions

Oikos, 121, 1613-1626 (2012)


J. von Hardenberg, L. Vozella, C. Tomasi, V. Vitale, A. Lupi,

M. Mazzola, TPC van Noije, A. Strunk, A. Provenzale

Aerosol optical depth over the Arctic: a comparison of ECHAM-HAM and

TM5 with ground-based, satellite and reanalysis data

Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 12, 6953-6967 (2012)


M. Baudena, I. Bevilacqua, D. Canone, S. Ferraris, M. Previati, A. Provenzale

Soil water dynamics at a midlatitude test site: Field measurements and box modeling

approaches. J. Hydrology, 414, 329-340 (2012)


M. Berlengiero, KA Emanuel, J. von Hardenberg, A. Provenzale, EA Spiegel

Internally cooled convection: A fillip for Philip

Comm. Nonlin. Sci. Numerical Sim., 17, 1998-2007 (2012)


E. Casella, A. Molcard, A. Provenzale

Mesoscale vortices in the Ligurian Sea and their effect on coastal upwelling processes

J. Marine Systems, 88, 12-19 (2011)


M. Rietkerk, V. Brovkin, PM van Bodegom, M. Claussen, SC Dekker, HA Dikstra, SV Goryachkin,

P. Kabat, EH van Nes, AM Neutel, SE Nicholson, C. Nobre, V. Petoukhov, A. Provenzale,

M. Scheffer, SI Seneviratne, Local ecosystem feedbacks and critical transitions in the climate,

Ecological Complexity, 8, 223-228 (2011)


N. Saino, R. Ambrosini, D. Rubolini, J. von Hardenberg, A. Provenzale, K. Huppop, O. Huppop,

A. Lehikoinen, K. Rainio, M. Romano, L. Sokolov

Climate warming, ecological mismatch at arrival and population decline in migratory birds,

Proceedings of the Royal Soc. B: Biological Sciences, 278, 835-842 (2011)


N. Saino, D. Rubolini, J. von Hardenberg, R. Ambrosini, A. Provenzale, M. Romano, F. Spina

Spring migration decisions in relation to weather are predicted by wing morphology among

trans-Mediterranean migratory birds,  Functional Ecology, 24, 658-669 (2010)


M. Baudena, F. DAndrea, A. Provenzale

An idealized model for tree-grass coexistence in savannas: the role of life stage structure

and fire disturbances, Journal of Ecology, 98, 74-80 (2010)


S. Metta, A. Provenzale, E.A Spiegel

On-off intermittency and coherent bursting in stochastically-driven coupled maps,

Chaos, Solitons and Fractals, 43, 8-14 (2010)


L. Zavala Sanson, A. Provenzale

The effects of abrupt topography on plankton dynamics,

Theoretical Population Dynamics, 76, 258-267 (2009)


S. Metta, J. von Hardenberg, L. Ferraris, N. Rebora, A. Provenzale

Precipitation Nowcasting by a Spectral-based Nonlinear Stochastic Model,

J. Hydrometeorology, 10, 1285-1297 (2009)


I.Koszalka, A. Bracco, J.C. McWilliams, A Provenzale

Dynamics of wind-forced coherent anticyclones in the open ocean,

J. Geophysical Research - Oceans, 114, C08011 (2009)


M. Baudena, F. D Andrea, A. Provenzale 

A model for soil-vegetation-atmosphere interactions in water-limited ecosystems,

Water Resources Research, 45, W02701 (2009)


A.Y. Kletter, J. von Hardenberg, E. Meron, A. Provenzale 

Patterned vegetation and rainfall intermittency,

Journal of Theoretical Biology, 256, 574-583 (2009)


M. Baudena, A. Provenzale

Rainfall intermittency and vegetation feedbacks in drylands,

Hydrology and Earth System Sci., 12, 679-689 (2008)


N.J. Balmforth, J. von Hardenberg, A. Provenzale, R. Zammett

Dam breaking by wave-induced erosional incision,

J. Geophysical Research - Earth Surface, 113, F01020 (2008)


J. von Hardenberg, A.Parodi, G. Passoni, A. Provenzale, E.A Spiegel

Large-scale patterns in Rayleigh-Benard convection,

Physics Letters A, 372, 2223-2229 (2008)


E. Brussolo, J. von Hardenberg, L. Ferraris, N. Rebora, A. Provenzale

Verification of quantitative precipitation forecasts via stochastic downscaling,

J. Hydrometeorology, 9, 1084-1094 (2008)


N. Ciccarelli, J. von Hardenberg, A. Provenzale, C. Ronchi, A. Vargiu, R. Pelosini

Climate variability in north-western Italy during the second half of the 20th century,

Global and Planetary Change, 63, 185-195 (2008)


A. Provenzale, A. Babiano, A. Bracco, C. Pasquero, J.B. Weiss

Coherent vortices and tracer transport,

in Transport and Mixing in Geophysical Flows, J.B. Weiss and A. Provenzale Eds.,

Springer, Berlin (2008)


A. Babiano, A. Provenzale

Coherent vortices and tracer cascades in two-dimensional turbulence,

J. Fluid Mechanics, 574, 429-448 (2007)


M. Baudena, G. Boni, L. Ferraris, J. von Hardenberg, A. Provenzale

Vegetation response to rainfall intermittency in drylands: Results from a simple ecohydrological box model,

Advances in Water Resources, 30, 1320-1328 (2007)


S. Gabellani, G. Boni, L. Ferraris, J. von Hardenberg, A. Provenzale

Propagation of uncertainty from rainfall to runoff: A case study with a stochastic rainfall generator,

Advances in Water Resources, 30, 2061-2071 (2007)


E. Gilad, J. von Hardenberg, A. Provenzale, M. Shachak, E. Meron

A mathematical model of plants as ecosystem engineers,

J. Theoretical Biology, 244, 680-691 (2007)


E. Meron, E. Gilad, J. von Hardenberg, A. Provenzale, M. Shachak

Model studies of ecosystem engineers in plant communities,

in Ecosystem Engineers: Plants to Protists,

K. Cuddington, J.E. Byers, W.G. Wilson and A. Hastings Eds., Academic Press, Amsterdam (2007)


J. von Hardenberg, L. Ferraris, N. Rebora, A. Provenzale

Meteorological uncertainty and rainfall downscaling,

Nonlinear Processes in Geophysics, 14, 193-199 (2007)


I. Koszalka, A. Bracco, C. Pasquero, A. Provenzale

Plankton cycles disguised by turbulent advection,

Theoretical Population Biology, 72, 1-6 (2007)


S. Calmanti, L. Motta, M. Turco, A. Provenzale

Impact of climate variability on Alpine glaciers in northwestern Italy,

International J. Climatology, 27, 2041-2053 (2007)


F. D Andrea, A. Provenzale, R. Vautard, N. de Noblet-Decoudre

Hot and cool summers: Multiple equilibria of the continental water cycle,

Geophysical Research Letters, 33, L24807 (2006)


N. Rebora, L. Ferraris, J. von Hardenberg, A. Provenzale

RainFARM: Rainfall downscaling by a filtered autoregressive model,

J. Hydrometeorology, 7, 724-738 (2006)


N. Rebora, L. Ferraris, J. von Hardenberg, A. Provenzale

Rainfall downscaling and flood forecasting: a case study in the Mediterranean area,

Natural Hazards and Earth System Sci., 6, 611-619 (2006)


D. Elhmaidi, J. von Hardenberg, A. Provenzale

Large-scale dissipation and filament instability in two-dimensional turbulence,

Physical Review Letters, 95, 014503 (2005)


C. Pasquero, A. Bracco, A. Provenzale

Impact of the spatiotemporal variability of the nutrient flux on primary productivity in the ocean,

J. Geophysical Research, 110, C07005 (2005)


A. Bracco, J. von Hardenberg, J.C. McWilliams, A. Provenzale, J.B. Weiss

Dispersion and mixing in quasigeostrophic turbulence,

Physical Review Letters, 92, 084501 (2004)


A. Parodi, J. von Hardenberg, G. Passoni, A. Provenzale, E.A. Spiegel

Clustering of plumes in turbulent convection,

Physical Review Letters, 92, 194503 (2004)


A.R. Jacobson, A. Provenzale, A. von Hardenberg, B. Bassano, M. Festa-Bianchet

Climate forcing and density dependence in a mountain ungulate population

Ecology, 85, 1598-1610 (2004)


H. Yizhaq, N.J. Balmforth, A. Provenzale

Blown by wind: Nonlinear dynamics of aeolian sand ripples

Physica D, 195, 207-228 (2004)


E. Gilad, J. von Hardenberg, A. Provenzale, M. Shachak, E. Meron

Ecosystem engineers: From pattern formation to habitat creation

Physical Review Letters, 93, 098105 (2004)


D. Elhmaidi, T. Lili, A. Provenzale, A. Babiano

Stability of two-dimensional vorticity filaments

Physics Letters A, 333,  85-90 (2004)


A. Bracco, E.P. Chassignet, Z.D. Garraffo, A. Provenzale

Lagrangian velocity distribution in a high-resolution numerical simulation of the North Atlantic

Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology 20, 1212-1220 (2003)


A. Parodi, K.A. Emanuel, A. Provenzale

Plume patterns in radiative-convective flows

New Journal of Physics 5, 106.1-106.17 (2003)


C. Pasquero, A. Provenzale, E.A. Spiegel

Suspension and fall of heavy particles in random two-dimensional flow

Physical Review Letters  91, 054502 (2003)


L. Ferraris, S. Gabellani, U. Parodi, N. Rebora, J. von Hardenberg, A. Provenzale

Revisting multifractality in rainfall fields

Journal of Hydrometeorology 4, 544-551 (2003)


L. Ferraris, S. Gabellani, N. Rebora, A. Provenzale

A comparison of stochastic models for spatial rainfall downscaling

Water Resources Research, 39, 10.1029/2003WR002504 (2003)


J. von Hardenberg, L. Ferraris, A. Provenzale

The shape of convective rain cells

Geophysical Research Letters, 30, 10.1029/2003GL018539 (2003)


C. Pasquero, A. Provenzale, J.B. Weiss

Vortex statistics from Eulerian and Lagrangian time series

Physical Review Letters 89, 284501 (2002)


A.P. Martin, K.J. Richards, A. Bracco, A. Provenzale

Patchy productivity in the open ocean

Global Biogeochemical Cycles 16, 1025 (2002)


M. Baer, J. von Hardenberg, E. Meron, A. Provenzale

Modelling the survival of bacteria in drylands: The advantage of being dormant

Proceedings of the Royal Society B 269, 937-942 (2002)


C. Toniolo, A. Provenzale, E.A. Spiegel

Signature of on-off intermittency in measured signals

Physical Review E 66, 066209 (2002)


D. Anfossi, C. Cappa, J. von Hardenberg, A. Provenzale

Statistical analysis of three series of daily rainfall in North-Western Italy

Nuovo Cimento  25 C,  99-121 (2002)


N.J. Balmforth, A. Provenzale, R. Sassi

A hierarchy of coupled maps

CHAOS  12, 719-731 (2002)


A.    Longhetto, L. Montabone, A. Provenzale, H. Didelle, C. Giraud, D. Bertoni, R. Forza, 

B.    Coherent vortices in rotating flows: A laboratory view

Nuovo Cimento 25 C, 233-249 (2002)


C. Pasquero, A. Provenzale, A. Babiano

Parameterization of dispersion in two-dimensional turbulence

Journal of Fluid Mechanics 439, 279-303 (2001)


N.J. Balmforth, A. Provenzale, J.A. Whitehead

The language of pattern and form

in Geomorphological Fluid Mechanics, edited by N.J.Balmforth and A. Provenzale,

Lecture Notes in Physics (Springer, Berlin, 2001)


N.J. Balmforth, A. Provenzale

Patterns of dirt

in Geomorphological Fluid Mechanics, edited by N.J.Balmforth and A. Provenzale,

Lecture Notes in Physics (Springer, Berlin, 2001)


A. Babiano, J.H.E. Cartwright, O. Piro, A. Provenzale

Dynamics of a small neutrally buoyant sphere in a fluid and targeting in Hamiltonian systems,

Physical Review Letters  84, 5764-5767 (2000)


A. Bracco, A. Provenzale, I. Scheuring

Mesoscale vortices and the paradox of the plankton

Proceedings of the Royal Society B 267, 1795-1800 (2000)


J. von Hardenberg, J.C. McWilliams, A. Provenzale, A. Shchepetkin, J.B. Weiss

Vortex merging in quasi-geostrophic flows

Journal of Fluid Mechanics 412, 331-353 (2000)


A. Bracco, J. LaCasce, C. Pasquero, A. Provenzale

The velocity distribution of barotropic turbulence

Physics of Fluids 12, 2478-2488 (2000)


A. Bracco, J.C. McWilliams, G. Murante, A. Provenzale, J.B. Weiss

Revisiting freely-decaying two-dimensional turbulence at millennial resolution

Physics of Fluids 12, 2931-2941 (2000)


A. Bracco, J. LaCasce, A. Provenzale

Velocity probability density functions for oceanic floats

Journal of Physical Oceanography 30, 461 (2000)


J. von Hardenberg, K. Fraedrich, F. Lunkeit, A. Provenzale

Transient chaotic mixing during a baroclinic life cycle

CHAOS 10, 122-134 (2000)


J. von Hardenberg, R. Thieberger, A. Provenzale

A box-counting red herring

Physics Letters A 269, 303-308 (2000)


N.J. Balmforth, C. Pasquero, A. Provenzale

The Lorenz-Fermi-Pasta-Ulam experiment

Physica  D 138, 1-43 (2000)