Past, Present and Future Climate
Much of the research in the Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (AOS) is conveyed by models and theories of climate.
Studies of future climate change provide an especially important unifying focus in the following ways:
- research in Global Geochemical Cycles is needed to determine the future uptake of anthropogenic carbon by the oceans and land surfaces
- research into Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics is central to understanding the complex cloud feedbacks and the interplay between aerosols, radiative transfer and clouds that help determine climate sensitivity
- research on Ocean Dynamics and Circulation provides tools needed for studying the stability of the meridional overturning circulation in the Atlantic Ocean as well as for developing closure theories for unresolved oceanic processes in climate models
- research on Atmospheric Dynamics and Circulation generates theories and models for studying the impact of global warming on hurricanes, and the mechanisms responsible for the poleward shift of the jet streams as the climate warms
Studies of paleoclimatology, with a particular emphasis on understanding the glacial-interglacial cycles of the Pleistocene, and other studies of the past climate build on our understanding of and ability to simulate the present climate and that of the recent past.
- research projects improve our understanding of and ability to simulate the frequency of El Nino events, the location and orientation of the mid-latitude storm tracks, or the extreme droughts in the African Sahel in the 1970's and 80's