Cliff Mass

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Cliff Mass
Cliff Mass in Seattle (cropped).jpeg
Clifford F. Mass

Alma materCornell University (B.S.)
University of Washington (Ph.D.)
Scientific career
FieldsAtmospheric Sciences

Clifford F. "Cliff" Mass is a professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington. His research focuses on numerical weather modeling and prediction, the role of topography in the evolution of weather systems, regional climate modeling, and the weather of the Pacific Northwest. He is a fellow of the American Meteorological Society, past-president of the Puget Sound chapter, and chair of the College of the Environment College Council.

His book The Weather of the Pacific Northwest is one of the best-selling titles from the University of Washington Press.[2] He maintains a popular weather blog, hosts a weekly public radio show on Tacoma's KNKX, and gives frequent public lectures on topics ranging from Washington State weather history to the impact of climate change on global and regional weather patterns.


Mass received a B.S. in Physics from Cornell University in 1974.[3] As an undergraduate, Mass performed research on Martian weather patterns with astrophysicist Carl Sagan,[4] and on the role of sun spots and volcanic eruptions on historical climate conditions with climatologist Stephen Schneider.[5] He received his PhD in Atmospheric Sciences from the University of Washington in 1978 with a dissertation on the role of African wave disturbances and climate variation in the Sahel region.[6]

Academic career[edit]

Before joining the faculty of the University of Washington, Mass was a professor of meteorology at the University of Maryland from 1978-1981.[3] He leads the University of Washington Mesoscale Analysis and Forecasting Group and is the chief scientist of the Northwest Modeling Consortium. He has published over 100 articles in peer-reviewed scientific venues, and served on the board of over a dozen regional and national meteorological committees, conferences, and scientific journals.[7]

Outreach and scientific advocacy[edit]

Mass maintains a popular weblog in which he posts regular articles on meteorology, Pacific Northwest weather history, and the impacts of climate change[8] written for the general public. According to Mass, "Global warming is an extraordinarily serious issue, and scientists have a key role to play in communicating what is known and what is not about this critical issue.[9]"

Mass has stated publicly that he shares the scientific consensus that global warming is real and that human activity is a major cause of warming trend in the late 20th and 21st centuries.[10][11] He has been critical of the Paris Climate accord for not going far enough to address the negative impacts of climate change.[12]

However, Mass is frequently critical of and has expressed concern that when media and environmental organizations make exaggerated claims about the current impacts of climate change, or cite climate change as the cause of specific weather events, it is misinforming the public about a key societal issue, distract public and governmental attention from more immediate environmental concerns, and stifle opportunities for effective bipartisan policy-making to slow climate change and mitigate its effects.[13][14][15][16]

His statements on the severity and progression of anthropogenic global warming have elicited condemnation from local news media such as The Stranger[17] as well as members of activist environmental organizations[18] due to concerns that Mass's scientific approach to understanding and communicating the risks associated with global warming could result in public apathy or be used by climate change deniers to bolster their claims.

In 2016, Mass advocated in favor of Washington Initiative I-732, which would have been the first carbon tax measure in the United States.[19] Mass later advocated against a different initiative to enact a carbon tax, Washington Initiative I-1631, in 2018.[20][21] Both measures were rejected. His 2018 opposition was used by the "No on 1631" campaign,[22] and drew condemnation from some alternative newspapers.[23][24]

Personal life[edit]

Mass, who is Jewish, has stated the value of tikkun olam has informed his approach to science.[8]


  • The Weather of the Pacific Northwest. University of Washington Press. 2008. ISBN 9780295988474. OCLC 836835255.


  1. ^ a b Henderson, Diedtra (March 19, 1996). "Mass Appeal -- UW Meteorologist Cliff Mass Not Only Knows His Science; He's Also A Whiz At Getting It Across To The Public". Seattle Times. Retrieved August 2, 2019.
  2. ^ "Northwest climate book's sales snowball". Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  3. ^ a b "King County Archives - Dr. Cliff Mass" (PDF). King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks. Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  4. ^ Mass, Clifford; Sagan, Carl; Mass, Clifford; Sagan, Carl (1976-08-01). "A Numerical Circulation Model with Topography for the Martian Southern Hemisphere". doi:10.1175/1520-0469(1976)033<1418:ancmwt>;2. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. ^ Schneider, S. H.; Mass, C. (1975). "Volcanic dust, sunspots, and temperature trends". Science. 190 (4216): 741–746.
  6. ^ "Why has U.S. Numerical Weather Prediction Fallen Behind and What Can Be Done About It?". Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  7. ^ "UW Mesoscale Analysis and Forecasting Group". Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  8. ^ a b Sydney Parker (February 2014). "Jewish Values Inspire Cliff Mass to Work for Good — and Stir Up a Little Controversy". Jewish in Seattle (magazine). Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  9. ^ "Face Time | Columns Archive, March 2011 | Past issues of Columns, the University of Washington Alumni Magazine". Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  10. ^ "Cliff Mass Knows Climate Change Is Real, So Why Are Activists and Scientists So Mad at Him?". Seattle Weekly. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  11. ^ "Cliff Mass: Climate change is real, but..." Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  12. ^ "Cliff Mass and Charles Mudede Agree on One More Thing: The Paris Accord Is "Weak Stuff"". The Stranger. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  13. ^ Mass, Cliff (2017-05-13). "Cliff Mass Weather and Climate Blog: Seattle Times Climate Change Article is Dead Wrong". Cliff Mass Weather and Climate Blog. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  14. ^ Mass, Cliff (2017-09-24). "Cliff Mass Weather and Climate Blog: Resilience to Extreme Weather and Climate Change: Can This Be a Bipartisan Effort?". Cliff Mass Weather and Climate Blog. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  15. ^ "What drought? Meteorologist Cliff Mass vs. nearly everyone". Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  16. ^ Mehling, Bill Radke, Shane. "Cliff Mass: Panic about climate change isn't helping". Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  17. ^ "Why Cliff Mass Is a Very Dangerous Weatherperson". The Stranger. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  18. ^ "Cliff Mass, Scientific Lies, and the New Climate Deniers - Deep Green Resistance Seattle". Deep Green Resistance Seattle. 2015-08-27. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  19. ^ Blog, Cliff Mass Weather (2016-08-24). "Cliff Mass Weather and Climate Blog: Why I-732, the Carbon Tax Initiative, is a Win for Everyone". Cliff Mass Weather and Climate Blog. Retrieved 2019-05-14.
  20. ^ Blog, Cliff Mass Weather (2018-10-14). "Cliff Mass Weather and Climate Blog: If You Worry About Climate Change and Care About the Environment, Vote No on I-1631". Cliff Mass Weather and Climate Blog. Retrieved 2019-05-14.
  21. ^ "A climatologist's argument against I-1631's carbon fee".
  22. ^ "If You Worry About Climate Change and Care About the Environment, Vote No on I-1631". No on 1631 campaign.
  23. ^ Lenferna, Alex. "Opinion: If You Care About Climate Change, Don't Listen to Cliff Mass; Vote Yes on 1631".
  24. ^ Mudede, Charles. "Cliff Mass Is Trump's Weatherman".

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