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PCC members help connect the dots on climate change through an influential and lasting GCeCS capstone

Studying climate change is not always about the science. The science, however, does lay the foundation for adapting to and mitigating climate change. An example of this relationship was shown no better than in a recent presentation given by a few PCC members. Judy Twedt, Michelle Tigchelaar, Miriam CaukinsAlex Lenferna, and Kate Griffith, all members of the climate caucus within the Union of Academic Student Employees at the University of Washington, talked about climate change in a worker-centric environment that sought to move beyond polarization and stereotyping to have honest dialogue. The idea was originally started by Twedt, who proposed developing a short presentation for the climate caucus on climate change and how it will impact residents of Washington state for her Graduate Certificate in Climate Science (GCeCS). After the initial presentation with the climate caucus, other unions requested similar talks for their membership and staff meetings. The talks have since blossomed into a speakers bureau, picking up members from all over the university.

Read More at UAW

Compelling animations show "Hot Times in the Arctic" explained by Cecilia Bitz, PCC's new director, in NY Times

March 14, 2018 Cecilia Bitz, PCC’s Director and UW Atmospheric Scientist, contributed her perspective on recent alarming warming in the Arctic in an opinion piece in the NY Times.  See the warming in the two animations of surface temperature, on YouTube and The first averages temperature over December-March in five-year intervals from 1980-2017 and the second over five-day intervals in 2017-2018. 

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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)

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

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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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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