Climate Change News (CCN)- Autumn 2014

Climate Change News (CCN), offered in fall and spring, is designed to keep you up-to-date on PCC activities and to help create an integrated, interdisciplinary community of students, faculty and researchers working on issues related to climate.

2013/2014 A Quick Look Back and Forward

We take this opportunity, the Autumn PCC newsletter, to highlight activities of the summer and take a look at those in the upcoming academic year.

First a few highlights. The largest PCC Summer Institute, with 84 registered participants, engaged physical and social scientists in understanding Climate Variability and Uncertainty, and how it is represented and understood. A full synopsis is included below. Next up is our annual Current Research in Climate Change Seminar (OCN/ATMS/ESS 586), organized every Autumn. This year LuAnne Thompson (OCN/PCC Director) is collaborating with Kristie Ebi (Global Health) to bring you "The Road to COP 20". See the seminar listing for more detail.

Welcome New PCC Fellows

But now let's welcome the three recipients of the 2014/2015 PCC fellowship, a 9-month research assistantship, to the program. Some of those in the PCC community had the opportunity to meet two of the awardees at the Summer Institute this past month. They are Ashley Spevacek, a first year student in Atmospheric Sciences who will work with Dargan Frierson (ATMS) as well as the at-large fellowship recipient Marlies Kovenock a second year graduate student in Biology, working with Abby Swann (ATMS/Biology). The third fellowship recipient is Emma Kahle, a first year graduate student working with Eric Steig (ESS). We look forward to introducing all three at the winter welcome in January. Welcome!

Wishing all the best to those moving on...

Along with the welcomes of new graduate students come the farewells. The PCC has been active on campus for over 10 years, and over that time participating graduate students have grown in numbers and some would say influence. The numbers of students graduating this year made me reflect on how they as individuals and as a group have contributed to the PCC. (Let me know who is missing!) 2013/2014 graduates include Sarah Purkey (OCN), Stu Evans (ATMS), Jack Scheff (ATMS), Kevin Ford (Biology), Chris Terai (ATMS), Deirdre Lockwood (OCN), Nicole Wigder (ATMS), Angie Pendergrass (ATMS), Kat Huybers (ESS), and Twila Moon (ESS). Many contributed to outreach including working with high school teachers and their students through the development of the UWHS ATMS 211 course, served as graduate student representatives to the PCC Board, participated and helped organize the graduate student climate conference (GCC), and all joined the group at least once at Friday Harbor for the annual PCC Summer Institute. Good luck to all as you move forward with your careers, you will be missed! Interestingly, some that left will be returning, but we leave that story to another newsletter.

Graduate Student Representative to the Board Rotates

Many thanks to Hilary Palevsky of Oceanography who served as the graduate student representative to the PCC advisory board over this past year as the PCC underwent a program review. As we thank Hilary for her always thoughtful and insightful participation on the board, we welcome her successor. Over the summer the PCC graduate students selected Stephen Po-Chedley of Atmospheric Sciences to be their voice on the board.

The PCC Board:
Together with LuAnne Thompson, Director, Chris Bretherton (ATM S), Curtis Deutsch (OCN) and Gerard Roe (ESS) make up the Executive Board.

For a full list of PCC Board membership, past and present, visit the PCC Board Tab in the participants section of the website.

2014 PCC Summer Institute/Friday Harbor Symposium

September 15-17, 2014 at Friday Harbor Labs

The 2014 PCC Summer Institute focused on “Climate Variability and Uncertainty,” and featured talks by invited speakers Myles Allen (Oxford), Clara Deser (NCAR), and Grant Branstator (NCAR), as well as a host of UW researchers.

Myles Allen kicked off the workshop with a discussion of his WeatherAtHome work linking extreme events to climate change. Dennis Hartmann (Atmospheric Sciences) and Greg Johnson (PMEL) followed with talks on the global warming hiatus. The first evening concluded with a musical session, featuring climate-themed songs by Elizabeth Maroon (piano), Dennis Hartmann (bass), and Dargan Frierson (mandolin).

The next morning’s talks featured Grant Branstator speaking about uncertainty in decadal predictions resulting from imperfect knowledge of the initial state of the climate. Mike Wallace (Atmospheric Sciences) spoke about the challenge of detection and attribution in a climate system with large natural variability. Clara Deser’s presentation was about the natural variability present within NCAR’s large ensemble of model runs, and its influence on regional climate uncertainty. Myles Allen then gave a talk on mandatory carbon capture and storage as a potential solution to climate change.

Tuesday evening’s talks were on climate uncertainty and the social sciences. Susan Joslyn (Psychology) spoke on how people interpret uncertainty. Ann Bostrom (Public Affairs) told us how mindsets affect how people see climate change. This was followed by a sprited panel discussion featuring the two previous speakers, Mike Wallace, and Myles Allen.

Wednesday morning featured three talks by UW researchers, leading off with Gerard Roe (Earth and Space Sciences) on how uncertainty in regional feedbacks leads to uncertainty in local climate responses. Eric Salathé (Climate Impacts Group, JISAO and School of STEM at the University of Washington, Bothell) told us how “time of emergence” can be a useful measure when giving scientific information about adapting to climate change. Cecilia Bitz (Atmospheric Sciences) then presented a summary of factors leading to uncertainty in polar amplification. A discussion from Eric Salathé, Cecilia Bitz, and Clara Deser about the uncertainty questions we might be studying in 2024 concluded the meeting.

We thank all the speakers for their excellent talks, and the participants for lively questions and discussion throughout the meeting. See you at the SI in 2015!

-Dargan Frierson

US Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation Science Team Meeting

September 9-11, 2014, University of Washington

In September, the University of Washington hosted the seventh meeting of the U.S. Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) Science Team. A variety of approaches for studying the Atlantic Ocean’s role in climate were discussed that gave a more complete understanding of how the ocean transports heat in the North Atlantic, and about AMOC and meridional heat transport variability on interannual to decadal time scales. Recent observational efforts are key to the progress that has been made. The now decade long time series of AMOC at 26.5N (RAPID-MOC and MOCHA efforts), the new effort to characterize transports in the subpolar North Atlantic via OSNAP (Overturning in the Subpolar North Atlantic Program), and efforts to observe AMOC in the South Atlantic are increasing our knowledge of AMOC and how it can impact climate. When compared to the atmosphere, the ocean is sparsely sampled making model validation difficult. AMOC is an emergent property of ocean circulation and is not directly assimilated into ocean state estimation products. This makes observations of AMOC an essential metric for evaluation of ocean reanalyses. There is little agreement in the representation of AMOC in ocean reanalyses either with each other or with the 26.5N time series. In addition, coupled climate models show a variety of mechanisms and time scales for modes of AMOC variability. The promise of using the state of the Atlantic Ocean for decadal climate prediction suggests increasing efforts to bring together the observational and modeling communities.

Reception following lectures open to the entire UW community that focused on role of the AMOC in climate.

LuAnne Thompson (UW Ocean) served as the chair of the organizing committee and local host. A total of 82 participants, including 25 early career scientists, attended the meeting, and among these were faculty and students from University of Washington (UW) and Atmospheric Sciences Departments. The UW Program on Climate Change, the School of Oceanography, the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, and the College of the Environment also hosted three 30 minute lectures and a reception open to the entire UW community that focused on role of the AMOC in climate, including a talk by Dargan Frierson (UW ATM S) on the role of AMOC in controlling the position of the Intertropical Convergence Zone.

Dargan Frierson speaking about the role of AMOC in controlling the position of the Intertropical Convergence Zone at the AMOC meeting in Seattle, September 2014.

Academic Programming

At the core of the PCC is the founding mission to unite scientists from across campus with the goal of gaining a greater understanding of global climate and the variability within the system. PCC graduate courses, many established in the first few years of the program, were designed to teach an interdisciplinary understanding of global climate, created by faculty from two or more of ESS, OCEAN and ATMOS. Graduate students enrolled in the Graduate Certificate in Climate Science (GCeCS) complete several of these PCC-designed courses and bring their climate science understanding to a non-specialist audience through a communication project. More recently the PCC is fostering bonds between those that study the physical climate system and the broader climate community on campus, from Biology, to the Evan's School to the Law School. This broadening is evident in the participation in this Autumn's Current Research in Climate Change Seminar which examines the political and science issues associated with the next round of negotiations of the UNFCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). Of the 33 students registered for this seminar (ATMS/OCEAN/ESS 586) 23 come from departments outside of Atmospheric Science, Oceanography and Earth and Space Science.

Informal informational sessions are being offered in October for the PCC and Graduate Certificate in Climate Science (GCeCS) and in November for the Undergraduate Climate Minor (see side bar). Bring your questions, meet other people with similar interests, and learn what these programs have to offer. We are also holding a workshop for high school teachers in October that features the labs created by UW graduate students from across campus that are designed for the high school geoscience classroom.

Contact Miriam at if you have questions about any of these meetings or workshops.

PCC Core Climate Courses and Seminars in 2014/2015

Autumn 2014

The Graduate Student Seminar
This seminar series is organized by graduate students for graduate students. The series provides an extremely laid back environment where grad students give 25-35 min presentations on their research followed by 20 minutes of questions/discussion on the topic. It's a great opportunity to see what is going on in climate research with your fellow students down the hall or across campus. Plus, it you are interested in presenting, it's a great chance to show off some of your own research and receive feedback on your work. Presentations should be geared toward a general scientific audience (of graduate students) with ample background information so everyone can follow. Refreshments.

For Fall 2014, the seminar meets on the following Wednesdays at 5 pm in 610 ATG: October 8 and 22; November 5 and December 3

Visit the seminar page for titles and speakers as they become known.

If you have not attended the GSS before, we encourage you to attend. It is a great way to meet other students and get involved in the PCC. If you have any questions, please email one of the GSS Chairs:
Bradley Markle (ESS,
Hilary Palevsky (OCN,
Gregory Quetin (ATM S,

Current Research in Climate Science Graduate Seminar (ATM S/OCEAN/ESS 586) and the
Climate Science Undergraduate Seminar (ATM S/OCEAN/ESS 475)
A weekly seminar focusing on both political and science issues associated with the next round of negotiations of the UNFCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change taking place in Lima Peru Dec 1-12, 2014. "The Road to COP 20" meets Tuesdays at 3:30 in PAA A114.

Advanced Physical Climatology (ATMS 571). Instructor: Dennis Hartmann (ATMS). One of two courses that satisfy the Physical Climate requirement of the Graduate Certificate in Climate Science (GCeCS).

Dargan Frierson is planning on offering Fundamentals of Global Warming Science (ATMS/OCN/ESS 587) in Autumn 2015.

Winter 2015

Global Carbon Cycle and Greenhouse Gases (OCEAN/ATM S/ESS 588)-Instructor Abigail Swann (ATM S/BIO)

Geoengineering Seminar: Science and Ethics-Instructors: Tom Ackerman (ATM S/JISAO) and Stephen Gardiner (PHIL)

Communicating Climate Science Seminar (OCEAN/ATM S/ESS 593)-Coordinator Miriam Bertram (PCC)

Spring 2015

Climate Modeling (ATM S/ESS 559; OCEAN 558)-Instructor: Cecilia Bitz (ATM S)


To get in the loop on PCC issues, be notified of posting of the PCC newsletter to the website, info about climate seminars and much more, subscribe to one of our mailman listserves below:

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