A. John Arnfield

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Navigating a 60 foot narrowboat around the Oxford Canal-Coventry Canal junction at Hawksbury, Bedworth, Warwickshire

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Current Affiliations & Positions

Professor Emeritus, Department of Geography, The Ohio State University , USA
Affiliated Faculty Member, Atmospheric Sciences Program, The Ohio State University, USA
Honorary Senior Research Fellow, School of Geography, Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, UK
Contact Information

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Affiliation 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).
UK FlagAffiliation Contact Information: School of Geography, Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK.  Tel: +44-121-414-5544 (messages only).
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Post sent to the above addresses 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 of Wales 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.  Model validation studies are presently being undertaken with Sue Grimmond (King's College London), using tower-based urban neighborhood surface energy budgets for a diverse group of urban forms. 

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.

John is a member of the Board of Directors for the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences - funded project Environmental Prediction in Canadian Cities (Principal Investigators J.A. Voogt, University of Western Ontario, and T.R. Oke, University of British Columbia).

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.

Geography 120
Earth Systems II: Atmospheric Environment
Geography 210
Physical Geography and Environmental Issues
Geography 220
Introduction to Physical Geography
Geography 520
Geography 622.01
Boundary Layer Climatology
Geography 622.02
Microclimatological Measurements
Geography 820
Problems in Climatology (The Urban Atmosphere)
Geography 820
Problems in Climatology (Numerical Simulation in Microclimatology)
Geography 822
Geography 830
Seminar in Resource Analysis (Air and Water Pollution) Graduate
Geography 882
Development of Geographic Thought
Atmos Science 881
Atmospheric Sciences Seminar

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 is 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 Secretary and Webmaster of the International Association for Urban Climate.  John is also founder of CLIMLIST, an email distribution list for climate scientists, and was its moderator and administrator for 15 years.  He also administered the Urban Climate List. Over the past several years, John has written annual Progress Reports for Progress in Physical Geography on Micro- and Mesoclimatology.

In March, 2002, John received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the the AAG Climate Specialty Group.

Want to Know More?

Check out John's on-line abbreviated Curriculum Vitae:
Personal Information & Interests

John was born in the United Kingdom, in the gritty Midlands town of Nuneaton in Warwickshire in 1945.  In 1966 he moved to Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, to undertake graduate work at McMaster University.  He lived in Columbus from 1972 until his return to the UK in August 2005.

Now that he has retired from Ohio State, John plans to spend more time pursuing his recreational interests.  These include various wildlife- and nature-related pursuits, especially birding.  John was until recently on the board of Columbus Audubon and maintained that organisation's web page.  He is now playing a similar role on the committee of the Church Stretton branch of the Shropshire Ornithological Society.  He is also Area Coordinator for south-central Shropshire for the British Trust for Ornithology Bird Atlas 2007-2011, a project seeking to survey and map the distribution and relative abundance of bird species throughout the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland.  In addition, he is a volunteer at the Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery where he sorts, documents and identifies bird specimens.

Other avocations include photography (especially nature photography), reading mysteries and the philosophy of science,  and eating and drinking well.  The latter passion led John to the committee of the Church Stretton Food Fayre, for which he maintains the webpage.

John also is interested in the general issue of scientific and critical thinking and rational inquiry in examining important issues, and is fascinated by the human capacity for self-delusion, from the paranormal to fringe- and pseudo-science, from religion to "alternative medicine", and from "New Age" ideas to postmodernism.

John is married and lives with Joan in the small town of Church Stretton, in the Shropshire Hills, a designated "Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty".

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Page Updated: 17 Dec 2007