News & Blog


Ice-sheets in the Northern Hemisphere drove climate variability in the Southern Hemisphere

A new study by PCC community members, Eric Steig and Brad Markle, is out in Nature. The team, led by researchers at University of Colorado, Boulder, demonstrated that climate variability in the Southern Hemisphere was forced by ice-sheet topography in the Northern Hemisphere. By using a fully-coupled climate model, the team determined the reason for the observed change in the ice core. They demonstrate that the retreat of the Laurentide–Cordilleran ice-sheets fundamentally altered the circulation of the ocean and atmosphere by reducing the strength of interactions between the tropical Pacific and high southern latitudes. Their results show that interannual and decadal variability in West Antarctica was reduced by nearly half during this retreat.

Read More in Nature

LuAnne Thompson on climate science and travel

LuAnne Thompson, a Professor of the School of Oceanography and previous Director of the Program on Climate Change (PCC), recently spoke to KUOW about the struggle to reconcile the convenience of flying while being a climate scientist. Many climate scientists travel constantly throughout the year for conferences and advisory meetings causing individual greenhouse gas emission levels to soar. However, Thompson believes we have to acknowledge that, "even with really good web technology, it’s not going to be as good as a face to face meeting and that’s maybe a compromise we need to make.”

Read More at KUOW

Abby Swann on Forecast: a podcast about climate science and climate change

Assistant Professor Abby Swann was recently featured on Forecast, a podcast about climate science and climate change. Michael White, Nature's editor for climate science and host of Forecast, talked with Swann about how plants respond to and affect climate change. Understanding the interactions of vegetation with the atmosphere usually involve long, convoluted, and complex stories, however, Swann eloquently describes such interactions in simple ways in this podcast.

Listen at Forecast

Forcing and variability on Southern Ocean surface temperature trends

A new paper out in Geophysical Research Letters (GRL) highlights the contribution of both anthropogenic forcing and natural variability on Southern Ocean surface temperature trends. Kyle Armour, of the School of Oceanography and Department of Atmospheric Sciences, was part of a team that helped to shed light on this. Using an ensemble of coupled general circulation models, they evaluated possible causes of the models’ inability to reproduce the observed Southern Ocean cooling. Their research found that the CMIP5 models have diverse Southern Ocean sea-surface temperature (SST) responses to the Southern Annular Mode (SAM) and greenhouse gas forcing. Through this they show that the biases in the simulated SAM trends strongly affect the models’ historical Southern Ocean SST trends.

Read More at Geophysical Research Letters (GRL)

Using Video to Highlight Local Climate Change in Small Alaskan Community

By Amy Brodbeck, SMEA graduate student After earning a Bachelor’s of Science in biology in 2011, I spent the next five years of my life engaging with the public in the field of environmental education and outreach. Through these experiences, I gained insight into the general public perception of different aspects of the environment. The level of interest and understanding varied, but one factor remained relatively constant—people wanted to talk about climate change. 

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Knut Christianson on the need for self-steering drones under Antarctica’s ice shelves

Knut Christianson, an assistant professor of Earth and Space Sciences, was profiled in the Scientific American about his current multi-million dollar project. Christianson, along with the Paul G. Allen Philanthropies foundation, will send a fleet of seven underwater robots into the world on a risky yearlong mission. Their goal is to help forecast sea level rise by observing the melting processes where layers of warm and cool water mix at the shelf. The complex physics in this unique region are poorly understood and make for a highly intriguing study. Scientists have been unable to make robust predictions about the ice shelves’ future and this seeks to change that.

Read More at Scientific American

PCC Grads Travel to the 11th Annual Graduate Climate Conference

December 5, 2017 by Emma Kahle This November nine UW graduate students traveled east to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts for the 11th annual Graduate Climate Conference  We represented five different UW departments (ESS, ATMS, BIO, CEE, SMEA) and presented talks and posters on a range of topics from a commercial fisherman App that records climate data to using weather forecasting techniques to reconstruct past changes on the Greenland ice sheet. 

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Experiencing the Antarctic Through Art-PCC grads go on a field trip

by Michael Diamond, Atmospheric Sciences Graduate Student and PCC Graduate Student Representative On Saturday, October 28, a group of graduate students with the Program on Climate Change visited the Winston Wachter Fine Art gallery to see the exhibit “Antarctica” by artist Zaria Forman. The exhibit features detailed drawings of ice from Zaria’s four-week art residency aboard the National Geographic Explorer expedition ship. 

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A Philosopher and a Climate Scientist Walk into a Bar (to Give a Talk on Climate Change)

November 29, 2017 How we should act on climate change is not simply a question of science, but also one of values. When discussing climate change policy, it is not enough for us to draw on the science alone, we also need to discuss the values which inform whether we should act on that science. For scientists, discussing values often feels a little outside of their realm of expertise and comfort – a grey area in terms of what a scientist’s proper role should be. 

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New species relationships and interactions due to climate change

A new study led by doctoral student Elli Theobald, doctoral student Ian Breckheimer and biology professor Janneke Hille Ris Lambers help to uncover what subalpine communities may look like by the end of this century. Over the course of a few summers, the researchers studied the flowering patterns among the alpine species. They noted that the anomalous conditions of the 2015 suggested that new patterns of reassembled wildflower communities will occur, with unknown ecological consequences. However, there is not enough information to know who the "winners" and "losers" of reassembly will be, or even what "winning" or "losing" in this scenario would look like.

Read More at ESA
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