Climate Change

Faculty: Tom Ackerman, Becky Alexander, David Battisti, Cecilia Bitz, Dennis Hartmann,Edward Sarachik, Stephen Warren

Sea Surface Temperature


 Sea Surface Temperature from 1950-1979.

As human activity begins to alter atmospheric composition and climate on a global scale, the challenge of understanding the global system comprised of atmosphere, ocean, ice and land vegetation takes on a heightened sense of urgency. Climate research is also motivated by the hope of substantial economic benefits to be realized from improved weather and climate prediction on time scales ranging from weeks to seasons or longer.

Faculty and students in the department are engaged in a number of projects directed toward a better understanding of climate variability and long-term climate change, including: dynamics of atmospheric variability on time scales of weeks or longer and its relation to extreme events such as droughts and unseasonable warmth or cold; the El Nino phenomenon in the equatorial Pacific and its effects on global climate; decadal variability in the mid-latitude and polar regions; the predictability of El Nino and other natural climate phenomenon; long term variability of the deep ocean circulation driven by gradients of heat and salt; the role of clouds, aerosols, sea-ice and land vegetation in determining the sensitivity of the climate system; and the problem of distinguishing between natural climate variability and climate change induced by human activity. The research involves the analysis of global data sets, many of them derived from satellite observations, and experiments with an array of numerical models of the various components of the climate system.

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Revised: 06.02.10