Dr Dim Coumou

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+31 20 59 89535
faculteit der aard- en levenswetenschappen ( dep. water & climate risk )
Associate Professor


My prime research interest is understanding how global warming affects the number and intensity of extreme weather events like heat waves, heavy rainfall and persistent droughts. I use a variety of methods, including advanced statistical analyses, climate models and novel machine learning techniques, to gain new insights. Working with high-level stakeholders (e.g. the World Bank) ensures that my research focusses on the most relevant extremes, i.e. those with the highest risks for society. I have authored over 40 peer-reviewed publications, with several in top-ranking journals, the IPCC 5th Assessment Report, 3 World Bank reports and several book chapters.


Extreme weather, climate change, atmosphere dynamics, climate model development, complex system analyses, predictability.

Academic training

PhD in Natural Sciences, ETH-Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
1995-2001MSc in Geophysics, University of Utrecht, Utrecht Netherlands

Professional employment history

2017-presentAssociate Professor, Department of Water and Climate Risk, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Netherlands (0.8 FTE)
2017-presentResearch Group Leader, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Department of Earth System Dynamics, Germany (0.2 FTE)
2014-2017Research Group Leader, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany
2012-2017Senior Scientist, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany
2008-2012Post-doc, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany
2003-2008PhD-candidate (Natural Sciences), ETH, Zurich, Switzerland
2001-2003Marine Geophysicist

Recent projects

  1. Globally Observed Teleconnections and their role and representation in Hierarchies of Atmospheric Models (GOTHAM). With an international consortium consisting of seven leading climate institutes, including University of Oxford, IPSL (France) and the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, GOTHAM represents an ambitious research program to gain robust and relevant knowledge of past, present and future climate extremes and variability in vulnerable areas as identified by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
  2. Atmospheric circulation and its relation to extreme weather (Sacre-X). Shifts in large-scale circulation patterns can strongly alter the frequency and/or intensity of extremes and can thus have severe humanitarian impacts. Climate change over the last century has already altered some large-scale circulation patterns but the uncertainties are large. This project aims to reduce these uncertainties by providing fundamental insights in atmospheric circulation, its modes of variability, and the link to weather extremes.


2015    Research grant from Belmont-JPI Climate: co-PI in large international consortium 

2015    Best paper award Geofluids

2014    Best paper award Environmental Research Letters

2013    Personal research grant from German Federal Ministry of Education and Research

2012    Personal research grant from German Research Foundation

2011    Grant for public outreach project from Climate-KIC

2011    Grant for public outreach project from Volkswagen Foundation

2009    Our Common Future Fellow, Volkswagen Foundation

2008    ETH-medal for outstanding PhD-thesis (top 5% only)

Selected publications

Kretschmer, M., Coumou, D., Donges, J.F. & Runge, J. (2016). Using Causal Effect Networks to Analyze Different Arctic Drivers of Midlatitude Winter Circulation. Journal of Climate, 29, 4691–4081.

Stadtherr, L., Coumou, D., Petoukhov, V., Petri, S. & Rahmstorf, S. (2016). Record Balkan floods of 2014 linked to planetary wave resonance. Science Advances, 2, 4.

Coumou, D., Lehmann, J. & Beckmann, J. (2015). The Weakening Summer Circulation in the Northern Hemisphere Midlatitudes. Science, 348(6232), 324–327.

Coumou, D., Petoukhov, V., Rahmstorf, S., Petri, S. & Schellnhuber, H.J. (2014). Quasi-resonant circulation regimes and hemispheric synchronization of extreme weather in boreal summer. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A., 111(34), 12331–12336.

Coumou, D. & Rahmstorf, S. (2012). A Decade of Weather Extremes. Nature Climate Change, 2, 491–496.

Rahmstorf, S. & Coumou, D. (2011). Increase of extreme events in a warming world. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(44), 17905–17909.

Coumou, D., Driesner, T. & Heinrich, C.A. (2008). The Structure and Dynamics of Mid-Ocean Ridge Hydrothermal Systems. Science, 321, 1825–1828.

Ancillary activities

Last changes Ancillary activities: Amsterdam 27 januari 2017