Unifying Research Themes
Learning from the past
What did the global patterns of temperature, precipitation, and wind look like during various periods in the earth’s history? How abruptly is climate capable of changing? What factors are instrumental in making climate change? What are the lessons for the future?
Determining the fate of greenhouse gases
What is the fate of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere? What are the land and ocean sources and sinks? What determines the concentrations of more reactive greenhouse gases such as methane? How will energy policy impact the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases? What technologies can help mitigate the introduction of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere?
Predicting future climate
How much is the earth likely to warm in response to the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere? How much does natural variability affect the accuracy of predictions? What research needs to be done in order to provide policy makers with more reliable projections?
Assessing the impacts of climate change
How do natural and human induced climate change impact ecosystems and societies? How serious are the risks of catastrophic impacts? Based on assessment of these risks, are costly measures warranted to reduce the rate of greenhouse warming? To what extent can the adverse impacts of climate change be alleviated if long range planning is informed by long range climate projections?
Interpreting current changes
Are the pronounced climate trends of the past few decades a sign of things to come or are they a manifestation of some longer term climate cycle that will eventually reverse itself? To what extent are these climate trends induced by human activities? Does the ocean merely respond passively to decade-to-decade climate changes or does it serve to amplify or even cause some of them?
Climate and Environmental Justice
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.
The undergraduate assistant for the PCC, David Bonan, interviewed Dr. Inez Fung during her visit to the University of Washington as the 2017 Distinguished Visiting Atmospheric Scientist Lecturer. They discussed the current state of climate and climate change research, better climate communication, and her relationship with a close colleague of hers that recently passed away, Piers Sellers.