Climate Science

studies and investigations pertaining to climate science in the most general sense

Predicting the Cascading Effects of Climate Change on Ecosystems: "Staggeringly Complex"

Predicting the effects of climate change on the structure and function of ecosystems is difficult because most ecosystems are staggeringly complex, with many directly and indirectly interacting animal and plant species. A recent study by Christenson and colleagues attempts to track the effects of climate change through a forest ecosystem in the northeastern US to understand how one climatic alteration might affect the plant community through multiple pathways…

Consequences of a Poleward Shift of the Circumpolar Westerlies

The Southern Annular Mode (SAM), the predominant mode of atmospheric variability in the Southern Ocean, has shifted to a positive polarity in recent years, resulting in a poleward displacement and strengthening of the circumpolar westerlies. In some regions of Antarctica, a positive SAM has been linked to warming and reduction in the sea ice duration and extent. This positive trend seems to be…

South Australia Drought Attributed to Climate Change

Recent precipitation declines over the poleward and western margins of subtropical dry zones from North America to Australia are consistent with a reorganization of atmospheric dynamics attributable to global warming. But are these droughts attributable to anthropogenic forcings like increased GHG, aerosols and ozone, or are they within the realm of natural variability?  The answer is not always clear. In the case of California…

Deep Ocean Circulation in the North Atlantic and Rapid Climate Change During the Last Ice Age

Rapid climate changes characterized the last ice age and deglaciation, with dramatic warming following the coldest intervals in the northern hemisphere. The repeated pattern of alternating temperature swings revealed in ice cores from Greenland and Antactica suggest a bipolar see-saw of heat redistribution by a dynamical component of the Earth system such as the large scale Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). Computer model simulations support this possibility, yet direct evidence for these changes in deep ocean circulation has been difficult to obtain.

Cold-adapted Species May Be Winners Under Climate Change

As the climate warms, all species will either need to find new habitats with similar temperatures to those they currently occupy or evolve new thermal tolerances. Recent research by Araujo and colleagues suggests that some species may be able to adapt to new, higher temperatures better than others. Specifically, the authors analyzed the heat and cold tolerance capabilities of 2740 terrestrial

Dendrochronology's "Divergence Problem" Explained?

A new study by Alexander Stine and Peter Huybers offers strong evidence that reduced light availability (“global dimming”) explains the apparent lack of tree-ring evidence in many Arctic regions for the recent warming observed in instrumental records there. Dendroclimatology uses measurements of the yearly growth width and density of tree rings to reconstruct changes in past climate. The …

Studying the ecological roles of top predators and the impacts of climate change on predator-prey interactions and ecosystem dynamics

I study the effects of climate change on animals, the interactions they have with each other and plants, and the cascading impacts of climate change on humans and how we live. This research is important because the climate is changing rapidly and we need to understand how ecosystems will respond so that we can adapt to the new realities of a warming world.

Wind and Topographic Irregularities Influence Antarctic Melting

Loss of mass from ice sheets contributes to rising sea level. To understand the contributions of ice-sheets to sea level rise we must understand the spatial and temporal variability of ocean-driven melting, which has accelerated over recent decades.  Dutrieux and colleagues used observations and results from numerical modeling to show the case of Pine Island Glacier in the Amundsen Sea in west…

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