News & Blog


UW affiliated researchers appointed to co-author IPCC Sixth Assessment Report

Four researchers spread out across the greater University of Washington area are among the 721 experts invited to participate as lead authors and editors in the IPCC's Sixth Assessment Report (AR6). Two PCC board members, Kyle Armour, an assistant professor of oceanography and atmospheric sciences, and Kristie Ebi, a professor of global health and environmental and occupational health sciences were selected to help write the AR6. Amour was selected to be a lead author for Chapter 7 of Working Group I, which centers around the "Earth's energy budget, climate feedbacks, and climate sensitivity". Kristie Ebi was selected to be a review editor for chapter 1 of Working Group II, which assesses the vulnerability of socio-economic and natural systems to climate change. On top of this, Richard Feely, of NOAA PMEL, was selected to be a review editor and Jeremy Hess, an associate professor of global health, was appointed to be a lead author for chapter 6 of Working Group II.

Read More in the IPCC

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. 

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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 accompanying a piece in the NYT by Cecilia Bitz, Director of the PCC, show "Hot Times in the Arctic"

Cecilia Bitz, Director of the Program on Climate Change (PCC) and Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, contributed her perspective on the recent warming in the Arctic in an opinion piece in The New York Times. Her piece sheds some light on weather the recent warming event is connected to climate change or anomalous weather. Accompanying the opinion piece, are two separate animations of surface temperature change over the last 30-years and last few months. 

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Building Relationships to Promote Science-Based Decision Making

PCC graduate students from ESS (Taryn Black and Emma Kahle) and ATMOS (Michael Diamond) worked with the Union of Concerned Scientists to host a very successful event to train scientists to talk to policymakers.  Inspired by the angst expressed by climate scientists during the PCC Climate Conversations last winter, this event created a pathway for action and for sharing research and science skill outside of academia.

Read about the event in the UCS blog post  by Taryn, Emma and Michael.

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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