Looking back at “Using past observations to constrain future climate variability and change” the inaugural mini-symposium

The Program on Climate Change hosted its inaugural “mini-symposium” at the UW Waterfront Activity Center on February 8-9, 2018. Exploring the theme of “Using past observations to constrain future climate variability and change”, the mini-symposium brought together a wide range of participants and speakers, including from the School of Oceanography, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Department of Earth and Space Sciences, the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean, the Applied Physics Lab, and the NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory. Also participating were a number of invited guests: Andrea Burke (Univ. of St. Andrews), Elizabeth Maroon (CU Boulder), Sarah Kang (UNIST), Jen Kay (CU Boulder), James Rae (Univ. of St. Andrews), and Mark Zelinka (LLNL).

While the scope of the workshop was broad, several galvanizing themes emerged: Observing Earth’s Energy ImbalanceInsights from the Paleoclimate RecordCloud Feedbacksthe Impact of the High LatitudesSeparating Forced Response from Natural Variability, and Climate Sensitivity over the Historical Record. Each theme brought a different perspective to the question of how we can best make progress in improving future climate prediction. A highlight, for us, was the pairing of talks by Mark Zelinka and Jen Kay (both former PCC members!). Mark showed evidence from climate models and satellite observations that cloud radiative feedbacks (which set the magnitude of global warming) depend on the spatial pattern of sea-surface temperature changes. Jen then showed that changing Southern Ocean cloud parameterizations in the Community Earth System Model (CESM) led to a change in the magnitude of global warming, but only after several centuries — once the Southern Ocean surface has had time to warm in response to greenhouse gas emissions.

You can check out the full agenda here.

Cristi Proistosescu (JISAO) & Kyle Armour (Oceanography and Atmospheric Sciences)