Climate Change News (CCN)- Autumn 2012

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.

Welcome 2012/2013

New Faculty
Welcome to Abigail Swann, a new interdisciplinary hire in Atmospheric Sciences and Biology. Her research interests include ecoclimate (the ecosystem-climate system), biosphere-climate feedbacks, climate and ecosystem modeling, and the carbon cycle. Look for her this winter when she'll be teaching Global Carbon Cycle and Climate (OCEAN/ATMS/ESS 588).

Changes to the PCC Advisory Board
Many thanks to Spruce Schoenemann (ESS) for his representation of graduate student interests on the PCC Advisory Board in 2011/2012 and welcome Stu Evans (ATMOS) as the new grad student representative. Additional changes to the advisory board include the addition of Josh Lawler (Environmental and Forest Sciences) and Alison Cullen (Evans School) and the temporary departure of Julian Sachs (Ocean) who is on sabbatical. A complete list of the PCC Advisory Board can be found here.

2012/2013 PCC Fellowship Recipients
Congratulations to the three new PCC fellows! Two are incoming graduate students: Earle Wilson, Physical Oceanography, and Gregory Quetin, Atmospheric Science. Second year Chemical Oceanography student, Katherine Heal, was awarded the third Fellowship.

We will soon be scheduling our winter gathering, to meet new faces and hear about the PCC in 2013 --- plan to join us in January--January 23, 2102 at 5 pm in the SAFS auditorium and lobby.

Institutes/Conferences Past, Present and Future

[Past] 2012 SI : "Atmosphere-Ocean-Ice Shelf Interactions"

Recent measurements of the thickness of many glaciers in both Antarctica and Greenland indicate that they have been thinning over the past couple of decades. Many studies implicate basal melting of these glaciers by relatively warm ocean waters. At the same time, there are large-scale changes in the atmospheric circulation that may be affecting the ocean circulation near these ice shelves. The interaction between the ocean, the atmosphere, and the margins of the glacial ice shelves was the topic of this year’s PCC Summer Institute at Friday Harbor Laboratories on San Juan Island during Sept. 16th to 18th. The 67 attendees from across a broad spectrum of specializations participated in four sessions over the two days. In spite of the broad body of knowledge required to communicate across the disciplines represented in this topic (Oceanography, Atmospheric Sciences, and Glaciology), the eight speakers did well to present their respective topics to the audience. A common thread through all of these talks was the importance of regional variability due to the relatively small scales of the processes contributing to the thinning of the glaciers.

Brian Rose and Eric Steig kicking off the Monday night Banjo Boogie Bonanza at this year's Summer Institute.

The opening session on Sunday, Sept. 16th, featured talks by two invited experts from outside UW who presented the big picture on observations of the glaciers in both Antarctica and Greenland. Dr. Christina Hulbe, from Portland State University, described the century to millennial scale variations of the various glaciers that make up the Ross Ice Shelf in West Antarctica based upon modeling of the observed features of the ice shelf. Dr. David Holland, from New York University Center for Atmosphere Ocean Science, described the ice-ocean interactions in the fjords of Greenland with a particular focus on Jacobshavn Isbrae Glacier.

The following three sessions were focused on the oceanography and ice shelves, the atmospheric forcing, and the role of the large-scale ocean circulation. Dr. Laurie Padman, Earth & Space Research, described efforts to model the coupled ocean-ice shelf-atmosphere system and its response to atmospheric and tidal forcing. Dr. Ian Joughin, from the Polar Science Center of the UW Applied Physics Laboratory, approached the interactions from the perspective of the response of the glacial ice sheets to changes in the forcing. After having Monday afternoon free to explore the island on a beautiful day, the group reconvened after dinner to learn more about the atmospheric circulation and its response to climate change. Dr. Dargan Frierson, UW Atmospheric Sciences, explained the zonally-symmetric response while Dr. Justin Wettstein, Univ. of Bergen, detailed the zonally-asymmetric atmospheric circulations in the high northern latitudes. During the final morning session, Drs. Greg Johnson (NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory) and Alex Orsi (Texas A&M) described decadal changes in the properties of Antarctic Bottom Water - a water mass that is formed at specific locations on the Antarctic continental shelves.

In addition to the oral presentations, there were several posters displayed in the Dining Hall throughout the meeting - providing fodder for interesting discussions during the welcoming reception and encouraging interactions between graduate students and visiting researchers. Abstracts, talk titles and more can be found on the 2012 PCC Summer Institute event page.

-Mark Warner, Oceanography, co-convener of the 2012 PCC Summer Institute

[Past] NASA UWHS August Summer Institute

Over the last two years many of us have been working to prepare a group of high school teachers to bring UW's ATMS 211, Climate and Climate Change, to the high school. Why? There are so many reasons, but one is that this course is new, engaging and current, with an emphasis on using math and physics. There are also many motivated and knowledgeable teachers who want to teach climate science, and so much scientific expertise here at UW that can really contribute to creating and sustaining a quality curriculum. So, we've created a village.

This years' week long teacher summer institute was the culmination of interactions that began with the selection of teachers in November 2011. These teachers worked with the text (Kump et al. 2010, The Earth System) and UW instructors' ATMS 211 homework for several months prior, meeting with graduate students and faculty once or twice before the August workshop.

NASA/UWHS August Summer Professional Development Week w/Teachers, Grad Students, Faculty and Staff

The teachers came to the workshop prepared to discuss and add content they'd created or located, in course folders using a cloud based internet resource. They also received a lot of content, including Tom Ackerman's presentations on Radiation and Feedbacks, LuAnne Thompson's climate model unit, and Billy Kessler's (of NOAA's PMEL) presentation on ENSO. The teachers were also presented with new "labs" created for the course by graduate students (highlighted on the NASA/UWHS page). The Professional development week was a success, and our two Mike Towns got to meet face to face (both well-known in their own circles), and Marcia Baker came back to discuss the science of radiation with a group of teachers and grad students, reminiscing afterward with Mike Town, yes, the former graduate student turned high school science teacher.

Fourteen teachers (8 new, 6 from 2011), eleven graduate students, and thirteen faculty and staff were involved in this years' program. Many thanks to all. Interested in learning more? Look for a planned outreach/capstone/UWHS gathering in the coming months, or email the PCC office (

Links to other write-ups on activities of this NASA Global Climate Change Education grant: Last year's summer program was featured in the Autumn 2011 newsletter and this year APL featured the activity in their newsletter. Also, to get a sense of the resources and efforts in climate change education across the country, visit: Tri-Agency Climate Education (TrACE) Catalog of educational products and resources.

[Present] 2012 Graduate Climate Conference

The 6th Graduate Climate Conference, a grad-student-only research conference on climate organized by PCC students, is rapidly approaching. On October 26-28 (this month), 84 graduate students from as far away as Bangladesh, Cyprus, and South Africa will converge on Pack Forest to present their latest research and form a cross-institution and cross-discipline community of early career Earth scientists. 31 of these students are from the UW, of which most are part of the PCC. Given the timing, there will be a costume party.

There is no student who does not appreciate free room, board and local transportation and subsidized travel... therefore the organizers would like to profusely thank all of the units on campus (including the PCC, CoEnv and affiliated departments) that are supporting the costs of this meeting!

--Jack Scheff, Atmospheric Sciences, co-organizer of 2012 GCC

[Future] 2013 Summer Institute on Ocean Change

The 2013 Annual Theme and September Summer Institute Topic will be Ocean Change. For the first time, the UWPCC will be organizing the upcoming Summer Institute jointly with the UW's IGERT Program on Ocean Change. We plan to schedule the institute in early to mid September 2013 at Friday Harbor Labs.

PCC Classes and Seminars

The Graduate Student Seminar : A seminar series organized by graduate students for graduate students, meeting bi-weekly on Wednesdays at 4:30 in OSB 425 throughout the year. Provides an extremely laid back environment where grad students give 20-30 min presentations on their research followed by a 20 minutes of questions/discussion on the topic. A great opportunity to see what is going on in climate research with your fellow students down the hall or across campus. The schedule of speakers can be found here:

Autumn quarter chairs: Spruce (, Stu ( and Sarah (

Climate Impacts on the Pacific Northwest (ATMS/ENVIR/ESS/SMA 585A)--Instructors: Nate Mantua and Amy Snover. TBD, usually taught every two years.

Autumn 2012

  • Current Research in Climate Science Undergraduate Seminar (ATM S/OCEAN/ESS 475)--Instructor: LuAnne Thompson (OCN).
  • Current Research in Climate Science Graduate Seminar (ATM S/OCEAN/ESS 586--Instructor: LuAnne Thompson.

    Focus: Climate Change Vulnerability and Adaptation. Link to seminar schedule.

    Students enrolled in 475 join those in 586 for the weekly lectures, but meet separately for discussions..

  • NEW! Fundamentals of Global Warming Science (ATM S/OCEAN/ESS 587, formerly 'Climate Dynamics')--Instructor: Dargan Frierson (ATM S), A bit of an experiment this fall,it targets non-physical scientists, with the goal of creating a class that would give graduate students in biological/natural resource/and social sciences an introduction to climate change and variability. Next year, we will teach a version that will be appropriate for physical scientists. Because of this change, this year's class will not count towards the "physical oceanography" requirement for oceanography graduate students. However, this will fulfill the Climate Dynamics requirement for the Graduate Certificate in Climate Science.

  • Winter 2013

  • The Global Carbon Cycle and Climate (ATM S/OCEAN/ESS 588)--Instructors: Abby Swan (ATM S) and TBD (OCEAN)

  • Spring 2013

  • Paleoclimatology: Data, Modeling, and Theory (ATM S/OCEAN/ESS 589)--Instructor: Eric Steig (ESS).

  • A full list of quarterly course offerings can be found here.

    Other Gatherings

    GCC gives grads a head start on getting together..but the faculty, staff, administration, will gather in winter quarter for our annual winter welcome event where those named above are introduced. THIS HAS NOW BEEN SCHEDULED: January 23, 2013 at 5 pm in the SAFS lobby and auditorium.

    Also, we are gearing up for a special outreach meeting to discuss the Graduate Certificate and associated Capstone Projects(GCeCS), current and new opportunities with the UWHS/NASA high school project, and PCC Outreach in general. THIS HAS NOW BEEN SCHEDULED! Join us November 7, 2012 from 4:30 until 6 in OSB 425.

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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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