Climate Sciences and the climate center of JPL

Climate Sciences and the Climate Center of JPL

Feb. 16 & 17

Understanding the far-reaching effects of climate change and how to adapt to these effects is one of the great challenges facing society today. Underpinning this challenge is the need to strengthen our understanding of the science and improve on our ability to project the future change, particularly at the regional scale. The factors that connect the buildup of CO2 to global warming require improvements in our understanding which come use of a variety of earth observations that are both available today and planned for tomorrow.

JPL lies at the forefront of key areas of the climate sciences both in developing the critical global observations of Earth required to meet these significant challenges as well as in advancing our understanding of key climate processes on many different fronts. This talk will place many aspects of the research pursued at JPL in this larger context. The JPL-based Earth science highlighted will include:

• Basic research on understanding cryospheric changes, including the loss of ice from the world’s ice sheets and subsequent challenges in modeling this ice loss.
• The monitoring of sea level rise and the challenges in understanding the factors that produce this rise and the projections of future rise.
• The planetary energy balance, our understanding of it, how it is expected to change and where gaps exist in our understanding of the change.
• The carbon cycle – how research at JPL is leading the community in a growing understanding of the carbon cycle and strategies to manage it.
• The water cycle, its component parts including clouds, precipitation, water vapor and surface and subsurface water. New ways to fingerprint the processes that shape the water cycle and determine how it is changing will be emphasized.

One of the ways these important advances are being used is through an ongoing and focused effort to evaluate Earth system models in an attempt to place some level of ultimate confidence on their projections. An important activity led by JPL is the Earth system model evaluation effort carried out in partnership with PCMDI. Highlights of this effort, drawn from the research activities above, will be described.

Dr. Graeme Stephens
JPL Center for Climate Science Director, CloudSat Principal Investigator

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