Climate Change News (CCN)- Winter 2011

Climate Change News (CCN) is a quarterly newsletter 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.

January 2011

Happy New Year! PCC activities for a given year are unified by a common theme, which for 2011 is Water and Climate. Each year the theme is introduced with our Spring Public Lecture, where a local or visiting scientist presents the latest information to researchers, students, and the general public. This is followed in September with our Annual Summer Institute, which brings research scientists, graduate students, and invited speakers together for a 2-3 day retreat. The third element of our program that speaks to this common theme is the Fall Research Seminar where local and invited speakers address topics related to the annual theme. Look for information in your e-mail and on the website for the Spring Public Lecture, and updates on the summer institute on our conference page.

Climate Scientist Profile: Mark Zelinka

The heart of the Program on Climate Change at UW is found in the diverse population of graduate students who participate in opportunities offered by the program. Here we profile one of our recent graduates, Mark Zelinka. We featured his thesis research on cloud feedbacks on the PCC homepage earlier this month. We would like to acknowledge and thank him for his contributions to PCC programs since he came to the department of Atmospheric Sciences on a PCC fellowship in 2004. That fellowship came after and before a number of other awards, and we imagine he has many more to come.

Mark contributed to climate outreach and communication, often as a member of a team. He participated in the UW Focus the Nation event in 2008 where he helped explained the water cycle using an aquarium; later that same year he entertained climate skeptics (and many others) at the Boeing Employee Fair. Mark helped make the Four Graduate Student Climate Conferences (GCC) a reality, reading abstracts and making pamphlets. The GCC is created and run entirely by graduate students and since 2006 has taken place at the Center for Sustainable Forestry - Pack Forest. To conclude this abbreviated summary of Mark's contributions, he completed a capstone project for his Graduate Certificate in Climate Science (GCeCS) in which he worked to understand and communicate how the population of Ha Tinh, Vietnam perceives risks associated with weather and climate.

Mark Zelinka (back right), Rei Ueyama (back left, also a PCC graduate student from Atmospheric Sciences who graduated in Fall 2010) and others returning from the 2010 PCC Summer Institute at Friday Harbor Labs

A quote from Mark, on the PCC and his time at the UW: "The PCC was a big selling point for me when deciding where to go for grad school and a huge part of my academic development during grad school. I honestly do not think I could have gotten so much exposure to the broad spectrum of climate science at any other university. For that and for the camaraderie of some really fun and interesting people, I am tremendously grateful."

Mark graduated this fall, as the PCC was winding down its focus on climate feedbacks, a topic that encompassed his research. Planned or otherwise, the timing is notable. You will find Dr. Zelinka working as a postdoctoral researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Lab with Steve Klein.

Geoengineering : Science, Policy and Ethics

This interdisciplinary seminar series explores the interfaces between the science of geoengineering, engineering viability, policy and governance issues, and ethical questions surrounding the deliberate modification of the Earth's climate system (geoengineering). The series is supported and hosted by the University of Washington College of the Environment Institute, the Program on Values in Society, the Program on Climate Change (PCC), and the Department of Atmospheric Sciences.

Details and schedule updates can be found at the Seminar Webpage.

Additional climate-related seminars can be found here.

NEW! PCC Outreach in Bozeman, MT

(11 January 2011)

The Graduate Certificate in Climate Science (GCeCS) requires that each student develop a proposal for and complete a project communicating climate science to the general public. This students' project brings the PCC's sphere of influece all the way to Montana!

Twila Moon, a PhD student in Earth and Space Science at UW, developed a course for the extended university program at Montana State University for her certificate capstone project. Twila combined her contacts at MSU and the Big Sky Institute, her experience and interest in teaching and outreach, and her climate science knowledge to create her own course for the general public.

Course Title: Climate Science Explained: Understanding Current Issues on Climate Change

Course Description: "Climate change is in the media, politics and public discourse, but few people are all that familiar with the history, issues and science. This short and interactive course will cover how climate has changed in the past and what to expect in the future, with an emphasis on Montana and the Rocky Mountains. Includes the basics of climate science; changes in climate versus weather; current issues; and the chance to interact with climate scientists. You will learn to make more informed decisions when presented with climate topics in general conversation or political decisions."

The course will be taught in February 2011.

More Course Details

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We also have an active climate outreach group; if you'd like to be contacted when we get speaker or other climate-related requests, send an e-mail to Miriam at

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