Climate Change News (CCN)- Winter 2009

Climate Change News (CCN) is a quarterly newsletter designed to keep you up-to-date on PCC activities and to help create a community of students, faculty and researchers interested in issues related to climate and climate change.

WELCOME: New Climate Postdocs at UW

At least five postdoctoral researchers will join the climate community at the University of Washington over the next six months. Two are funded by JISAO (Andreas Muhlbauer and Jessica Kleiss), two by the PCC (Juzhi Hou and Martin Vancoppenolle) and one is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (Cathy Hohenegger).

Andreas Muhlbauer received his PhD in Atmospheric Physics from ETH Zurich. The title of his dissertation was "Aerosol-cloud-precipitation interactions in moist orographic flows." His primary advisor was Dr. Ulrika Lohmann. Andreas is now located at JISAO in the old ACC building at 3737 Brooklyn Avenue in room 174. Andreas is working with Tom Ackerman on regional effects of aerosol on clouds in the northwest and intends to work with Rob Wood on modeling aspects of the recent VOCALS field program.

Jessica Kleiss is finishing up her PhD in Oceanography at the University of California, Scripps Institution of Oceanography this spring. Her dissertation title is "Airborne measurement of surface wave breaking evolution" and her primary advisor is Dr. Ken Melville. She is expected to take up residence at JISAO in early spring and will be working on problems of air-sea interaction and marine boundary layer growth.

Juzhi Hou received his doctorate degree from Brown University for research entitled "High Resolution quantitative reconstruction of New England climate variability over the past 15 ka using compound-specific D/H analyses", working under Dr. Yongsong Huang. He is working in Oceanography with Julian Sachs on coupling of terrestrial biogeochemical cycles to climate changes in Lake Qinghai during the Holocene.

Martin Vancoppenolle received his PhD from the Universite Catholique de Louvain in Belgium for research entitled "Modeling the mass balance and salinity of Arctic and Antarctic sea." His primary advisor was Dr. Thierry Fichefet. While considering a post-doctoral offer from JISAO, Martin received an offer of a three-year research fellowship sponsored by the Belgian government. He accepted the latter offer but will use that support, with some additional PCC funding, to spend at least a year in residence at the University of Washington studying polar climate problems, both with Cecilia Bitz in Atmospheric Sciences and with members of the Polar Science Center in the Applied Physics Laboratory.

Cathy Hohenegger got her Ph. D. in 2007 under the supervision of Christoph Schar in the Institute for Atmosphere and Climate at ETH-Zurich. Her thesis was entitled 'Dynamical analysis of atmospheric predictability in cloud-resolving models'. Since then, she has continued working as a postdoc in Schar's group on modeling the interaction of summertime continental convection and soil moisture, and its implications for 21st century regional climate change in the Alpine region. Cathy has been awarded a two-year postdoctoral fellowship by the Swiss National Science Foundation to work with Chris Bretherton on using cloud-resolving models to improve our understanding and simulation of continental cumulus convection and its diurnal cycle in climate and weather forecast models. She will arrive at the beginning of April. Her office will be on the 7th floor of the Atmospheric Science Geophysics Building.

Science Feature: Probing Climate Feedbacks
in the World’s Largest Cloud

-- Chris Bretherton, Director Program on Climate Change, Professor of Atmospheric Sciences

During October - November 2008, seven UW scientists, including PCC Director Chris Bretherton, traveled down to the driest place on earth, the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. Their unlikely goal: to study clouds, as part of an international field study called VOCALS-REx involving 150 people from 8 countries on 2 research ships, 5 aircraft, and 2 coastal sites. The cool waters off the west coast of South America also nurture the world's largest and most persistent low-latitude cloud sheet, typically 2000 km across. These 'marine stratocumulus' clouds are thin and low-lying, but reflect much tropical sunshine before it can warm the sea surface, providing a natural cooling effect important to both regional and global climate. The clouds form atop turbulent updrafts which lift moisture 1-2 km off the ocean surface. They interact strongly with pollution, which induces a brighter cloud with more but smaller cloud droplets. Because they are thin, turbulent, and widespread, marine stratocumulus clouds have proved challenging but important for climate models to simulate.

The southeast Pacific is a wonderful natural laboratory for studying marine stratocumulus clouds and their interaction with manmade pollution. Near the Chilean coast, effluent from large copper smelters and cities accumulate. Further offshore, the air comes from the pristine south Pacific Ocean, where sea-salt and phytoplankton are the only significant aerosol sources for cloud condensation. The result – detectable even from space – is cloud droplets much smaller near the coast than further offshore. VOCALS (the VAMOS Ocean-Cloud-Atmosphere-Land Study) is a multiyear CLIVAR study which Chris helped design. One of its main goals was to measure how pollution is affecting the southeast Pacific cloud deck, and whether current climate models are getting this right. VOCALS combined multiyear buoy, satellite and ship-based observations, modeling of the atmosphere-ocean system on local to global space and time scales, and the regional experiment (REx) this fall. REx, masterfully led by Chris’s colleague Rob Wood of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, gathered intensive in-situ data on clouds, aerosols and mesoscale ocean processes. Rob, Chris, and Atmospheric Sciences graduate students Rhea George, Andy Berner and Chris Terai flew long early-morning missions on the NSF C-130 research aircraft, Dave Covert of PMEL took weeks of aerosol measurements on NOAA’s Ron Brown research ship, and Rob’s postdoc Duli Chand monitored aerosol chemistry on a desolate Chilean coastal hilltop. VOCALS-REx sampled remarkable contrasts – some of the cleanest clouds ever measured less than 100 km away from air as polluted as near Los Angeles, patches of clouds less than 1500 m deep raining as hard as a typical Seattle winter rain storm, and huge expanses of frigid 16 C ocean water deep in the tropics – but the real discoveries are just beginning as we synthesize the data. Further information on VOCALS can be found on the program website

Chris Bretherton and Rob Wood, both of UW Atmospheric Sciences, and others, plan an upcoming sampling mission as part of the VOCALS regional experiment (REx) this past fall.

PCC Spring Public Lecture: Lundquist to speak on Snow and Climate
in the Pacific Northwest

Jessica Lundquist, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Washington, will give the 8th annual PCC Spring Public Lecture on 23, April 2009. Dr. Lundquist leads the Mountain Hydrology research group which strives to understand spatial patterns of snow accumulation, snowmelt, and streamflow in complex terrain, particularly as they relate to changes in weather and climate.

Dr. Jessica Lundquist Lecture: 23 April 2009 - 120 Kane Hall- 7 PM. This is a free public lecture.


2008 Summer Institute

LuAnne Thompson's overview of the September 2008 PCC Summer Institute is now available. "Can Changes in Ocean Circulation Modify the Climate?" or "Questions and Conclusions of the 2008 PCC Summer Institute" can be linked to here. Schedule and select presentations can be found on the events page.

Washington Climate Change Impacts Assessment Conference

On 12 February 2009, there will be a one-day conference at the Washington State Convention Center where climate change impacts and adaptation options for Washington State�s communities and ecosystems will be presented. Research reported in this conference was conducted by the Climate Impacts Group, with support from the Washington State Legislature, and through partnerships with Washington State University and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Please visit the conference website for agenda, registration information, and much more.

Early registration has been extended to 30 January. Registration and travel reimbursement is now available for a limited number of Washington state, county, local, and tribal government employees. Pre-approval from the Climate Impacts Group is required. See details on the conference registration page.

2009 Graduate Student Climate Conference (GCC)

The 3rd Graduate Climate Conference will be held the weekend of April 17-19, 2009, at the University of Washington's Center for Sustainable Forestry at Pack Forest on the southwestern slope of Mount Rainier. Each conference is organized entirely by a new group of graduate students, with advise from the previous organizers. This year Amy Cash, Kelsey McDuffee, Brian Smoliak, Angie Pendergrass and Dave Munro have taken the lead.

The event has grown in popularity over the last few years, developing a loyal group of supporters as well as a growing number of graduate student applications. This years supporters include BP America Inc, CEE (UW), ESS (UW), Oceanography (UW), ATMOS (UW), the UW Graduate School, JISAO, Colorado State University as well as the Program on Climate Change. Organizers have also had a record number of applicants, particularly from outside institutions, leading to the agonizing task of selecting participants.

View abstracts, agenda, and more from the 2nd Graduate Student Climate Conference held in October 2007 at 2nd GCC.

Graduate Certificate in Climate Science (GCeCS)

The GCeCS consists of 17 credits, including 3 graded courses, 1 seminar/reading course and a capstone project that includes a second seminar/reading course. Phil Mote, Washington State Climatologist, and well-renowned climate change spokesperson, is currently teaching the Communicating Climate Science Seminar and advising students on their capstone projects. As of April 1st, Chris Bretherton, PCC Director, will take the reins from Phil who will be leaving the UW to direct the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute and join the faculty of at the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Science at Oregon State University.

Additional notes:
The University has approved course numbers for both the seminar (ATM S/ESS/OCN 593) and capstone (ATM S/ESS/OCN 596), and both should soon appear in the course catalogue.

Descriptions of potential capstone projects are available upon request from the capstone coordinator or the PCC office.

Protocols for submitting a petition to waive a particular GCeCS requirement and to gain approval for a GCeCS proposal have been updated and can be found on the GCeCS webpage.

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Contributing to PCC Programs

Are you interested in helping the PCC via a private donation? If so, please contact Chris (206-685-7414 or or Miriam (206-543-6521 or or give directly through the UW foundation website. We are particularly in need of financial support for our public outreach efforts (including bringing in distinguished speakers) and for sustaining our PCC postdoc program. We welcome contributions of all sizes!

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