The Climate Change Research Group studies the interaction of Earth’s climate system with an array of subjects across diverse spatiotemporal scales. The topics we explore range from (i) the detection and attribution of recent climatic change, to (ii) the near-term meteorological, societal, and public health impacts of anthropogenic climate change, to (iii) the evolution of Earth’s climate system through geologic time. To address this diversity of topics and investigate the interactions of Earth’s atmosphere, biosphere, cryosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere we utilize a wide-range of research tools, including environmental observations, numerical models, statistical analyses, and machine learning techniques.
For detailed information on our research efforts, there’s no better place to look than the primary sources. A list of and links to our peer-reviewed manuscripts can be found on the Publications page. If you’re unable to access our manuscripts due to paywall restrictions, please request a reprint via Email. For more accessible takes on our research, please consult the Media Highlights page.
Detection, Attribution, and Projection:
High-impact, extreme weather events are the primary means by which society has experienced, and will continue to experience, climate change. Observations indicate that some extreme weather events, for example, heatwaves, floods, and droughts, have become more frequent and/or more intense. In principal, positive trends in the likelihood and intensity of these events could be due to thermodynamic changes (e.g., more heat and water vapor in the atmosphere), dynamic changes (e.g., more frequent or persistent atmospheric circulation patterns), or a combination of both. Our research employs spatial clustering methods that attempt to isolate the dynamic and thermodynamic climate change signals. We use this methodology to characterize extreme events, as well as conduct climate change detection, attribution, and projection analyses.
Climate Change Impacts:
To plan for, adapt to, and/or mitigate the effects of climate change, citizens, corporations, and policy makers require a better understanding of the consequences of anthropogenic climate change on human, agricultural, ecological, and environmental systems. Much of the CCRG’s research focuses on the intersection of climate change and public health, and seeks to elucidate the effects of future climate change on subjects that range from infectious disease to air quality.
Air Quality: Air pollution is a leading cause of respiratory infections, heart disease, and lung cancer. The World Health Organization attributes 1.3 million deaths per year to poor air quality and suggests health risks can be significantly reduced with improved air quality. Attempts to regulate the emission of pollutants via Clean Air legislation have successfully improved air quality in some countries but issues remain, particularly in developing nations. The specter of global warming adds an additional layer of complexity to the issue, as changes in the circulation of the atmosphere may influence the meteorological conditions that help to regulate air quality. To determine how global warming may influence future air quality, our work researches the meteorological factors associated with past poor air quality and studies how those meteorological factors may change in a world warmed by greenhouse gases. To date, this research suggests that if future Clean Air regulatory objectives are to be met, more stringent emission control measures may be required in order to offset the pollutant-accumulating effects of global warming on the meteorological factors that help to regulate air quality.
Developing an understanding of the evolution of Earth’s climate system is fundamental to the geologic and climatic science disciplines. Earth system modeling of past climates can be used to gauge the ability of climate models to simulate geologically inferred climate patterns, to shape and verify observation-driven hypotheses, and/or to engender confidence in the ability of models to project future environmental change. On-going work in the CCRG uses Earth system models to explore the interactions of Earth’s atmosphere, cryosphere, biosphere, and lithosphere in both shallow- and deep-time settings.