Sebastian W. Hoch

Research Assistant Professor

Office: 485 INSCC
Phone: +1 (801) 581-7094
Email: sebastian.hoch *at*

University of Utah
Department of Atmospheric Sciences
135 S 1460 E, Rm 819
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0110
portrait - S W Hoch


2006 PhD Natural Science, ETH Zurich, Department of Earth Sciences

Research Interests


Salt Lake Basin Cold-Air Pool Exchange Processes Study


The Salt Lake Basin Cold-Air Pool Exchange Process Study was sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Utah Department of Air Quality. The goal of the study is to investigate meteorological processes responsible for mixing and transport  in wintertime persistent cold-air pools (PCAPs). The project augments the NOAA aircraft-based Utah Wintertime Fine Particulate Study (UWFPS) by adding meteorological observations to the chemistry dataset collected during January and February 2017.

In-situ meteorological and air chemistry equipment and remote sensing equipment (LiDAR and SoDARs) were strategically deployed to investigate the role of thermally driven canyon flows and of the lake breeze from the Great Salt Lake in modulating concentrations of particulate pollution (PM2.5) and ozone (O3). 

Read more here soon!

Salt Lake Valley PM2.5 Pollution Study


The Salt Lake Valley PM2.5 Pollution Study is a multi-university study sponsored by the the Utah Department of Air Quality. The goal of the study is to investigate the reactive pathways for the formation of secondary particulate pollutants during persistent wintertime cold air pool episodes

My role is to capture the meteorological conditions during the air pollution episodes. Instrumentation ranging from small inexpensive temperature dataloggers deployed along a height-transect from the valley floor up the basin sidewall, to sophisticated remote-sensing equipment such as a Doppler Wind LiDAR, are used to monitor the spatial and temporal variation of the atmospheric conditions of the valley cold pools.

Key components of the meteorological measurements include the timing and strength of mixing in the early morning, when two reservoirs of air, the surface layer and the upper part of the cold pool, are combined and allow chemical reactions to take place.

The influence of other meteorological phenomena, such as the lake breeze, clean air inflows from tributary valleys (Parleys Canyon, Mill Creek, etc.), and top-down erosion of the basin cold air pools are also investigated.

Read more here!


muri-project cover photo

The Mountain Terrain Atmospheric Modeling and Observations Program (MATERHORN) is a multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) sponsered by the Office of Naval Research.

Goal of the project is to evaluate the predictability of atmospheric flows in complex terrain using state-of-the-art atmospheric models, to pin-point the model's weaknesses by comparing to a comprehensive new data-set collected during two month-long field experiments, and to then improve the models with new parameterizations.

Read more!

Bingham Canyon Mine Study

Title image

The Bingham Canyon Mine Study investigates the formation and evolution of wintertime inversions within the deep open-pit Bingham Canyon Copper Mine. Observations focus on the evolution of the pseudo-vertical temperature profiles within the mine's atmosphere and the atmosphere of the adjacent Salt Lake City Valley. Ventilation of the mine's atmosphere and the role of winds aloft are evaluated from data collected with our Doppler Wind LiDAR. Funding comes from Rio Tinto / Kennecott Utah Copper.

Read more!

PCAPS - title image

The Persistent Cold-Air Pool Study (PCAPS) is a three-year research program funded by the National Science Foundation to investigate the processes leading to the formation, maintenance and destruction of persistent mid-winter temperature inversions (cold-air pools) that form in the Salt Lake basin.

I set up several lines of inexpensive temperature data loggers running up to sidewalls of the Salt Lake Basin to collect pseudo-vertical temperature profiles.

Visit the PCAPS web page!
Meteor Crater Experiment (METCRAX)

METCRAX was designed to study the formation and development of cold-air pools in an idealized topography - Arizona's Meteor Crater. For more information, visit the our METCRAX website and the project websites of NCARs ISFF or ISS.

METCRAX is a 3-year program financed by the US National Science Foundation.

My postdoctoral study within the project was partially (1st year) financed by the Swiss National Science Foundation, SNSF.

Special interest in the METCRAX project is to evaluate radiative effects in the evolution of inversions, such as the

  • Radiation (and energy-) balance near the crater surface.
  • Radiative flux divergence in the near-surface boundary layer.
ETH Greenland Summit Experiment

greenland tower

The ETH Greenland Summit project was designed to study the climate of the so-called "dry snow zone" of the Greenland Ice Sheet, the area where net accumulation occurs on the ice-sheet.

My contribution to this project as a PhD student at the Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science IACETH of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) was to evaluate the surface energy balance and to study the divergence of longwave radiation in the stably stratified boundary layer.  

An brief personal overview of the project can be found here.

My doctoral thesis can be downloaded at the ETH E-collection.


I enjoy teaching "Mountain Weather and Climate" ATMOS 3200.

Personal Interests

I very much enjoy the outdoors, experiencing nature. I often try to capture my view on things using the means of photography.

last edits 6 Dec. 2012 - SWH