Research Initiatives

YCEI develops interdisciplinary Research Initiatives that integrate faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students to address pressing issues in Climate and Energy.  Each Research Initiative is organized by a team of faculty and promotes solutions through the funding of collaborative research, as well as workshops and symposia that feature national and international experts.  Our Research Initiatives include:

High-Resolution Climate Assessments (for the NE U.S. and East Africa and Arabia)

Global climate models all predict that the Northeastern United States may be particularly vulnerable to both short- and long-term effects of global warming. Some of these effects—such as higher average temperature and sea level, along with more intense and more frequent storms and droughts—are already being felt in the New England area. As we learned from Hurricane Irene, Superstorm Sandy and winter storm Nemo, isolated weather extremes riding on gradual trends can be extraordinarily damaging. A 2011 report by the American Security Project estimated that failure to mitigate or plan for what is likely to become the new normal could result in the loss of 100,000 jobs and $22 billion from the regional economy between 2010 and 2050.  To help decision-makers prepare for this changing reality, the Yale Climate and Energy Institute will collaborate with researchers from the University of New Hampshire, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and MIT to create a framework to rapidly generate stakeholder-driven high-resolution regional temperature and hydrological projections for future scenarios of CO2-induced global warming for the Northeast sector of the U.S. for the coming century.

Global climate models for East Africa suggest that precipitation will likely increase by as much as 20% for the area around the Republic of Djibouti and the Gulf of Aden. Government planners there, however, are developing water resource management plans consistent with their ongoing experience with drought. The same team of scientists which developed the Northeast Region Climate Assessment has proposed a similar high-resolution climate assessment for East Africa and Arabia to determine which future is the one to plan for.  The first three-year phase of the study will cost $5.2MM and is projected to begin in the Fall of 2015, and deliver preliminary results for the Republic of Djibouti to share at the IPCC Council of Parties meeting that begins in Paris at the end of November 2015.  

YCEI scientists presented plans for the proposed study at the East Africa Economic Risks and Opportunities Summit in Djibouti, May 2-4, 2015.  Scientists from the Taskforce and in charge of research programs in Djibouti and Ethiopia are featured in a short video

Climate System and Human Health

The mission of the Climate System and Human Health Initiative is to expand Climate Science research with a focus on the key uncertainties in regional and global climate simulations, as well as promote the advancement of Human Health science as it relates to anthropogenic climate forcing. These topics are both independent and interdependent, and the intent of the Initiative is to build a nexus for research collaborations discussions that inform the public and policymakers of risks to human health posed by climate change.

Unconventional Hydrocarbon Resources and the Environment

Unconventional hydrocarbons such as shale gas and shale oil are transforming world energy markets. The mission of the Unconventional Hydrocarbon Resources Initiative is to promote better understanding of the interdisciplinary research questions related to the development and use of these fuels during the transition to renewable, low-carbon energy sources. Important scientific questions remain about the characterization, distribution and size of the worldwide unconventional fossil-fuel resource, as well as about the economic and environmental impact of its development. Key environmental questions include the protection of groundwater resources during hydraulic fracturing and influence of leaked methane on climate change.