Climate Forecasting and Modeling

How can global climate models inform us about extreme events in climate?

Examples of extreme events include heat waves, hard freezes and heavy precipitation. Richard Grotjahn, professor of land, air, and water resources, investigates whether the properties of extreme weather events are likely to change in the future. He studies the severity, frequency and duration of extreme events and builds global climate models based on known, underlying principles that explain how the elements of the climate system operate.

How are particles distributed in the atmosphere?

The distribution of water and electrolytes in the atmosphere depends on temperature and humidity. Anthony Wexler, director of the Air Quality Research Center, collaborates with international scientists on the Aerosol Inorganics Model Project (AIM) to understand measurements and to validate aerosol thermodynamic modules used in global climate change models.

Will climate change impact how frequently the air is polluted?

Climate change will modify the strength and frequency of weather phenomena, such as high pressure systems, which are associated with air pollution. To understand the variation of weather patterns influenced by changing climate, Shu-Hua Chen, professor of land, air, and water resources, studies mesoscale meteorology and the impact of climate change on regional air quality in California. She uses data from severe weather and regional climate to predict pollutant transport. Chen uses the data to model stagnant atmospheric conditions over California’s Central Valley and the Los Angeles basin.

How is the hydrologic cycle incorporated into climate change models?

Recent evidence of the influence of human activity on the climate system has led to increased research attention on the hydrologic cycle as an important focus for the study of climate change. The analysis of long term weather observations and the use of sophisticated global and regional weather forecast models provide information about how exchanges of moisture and heat between the atmosphere and the earth’s surface affect climate. Bryan Weare, professor of land, air, and water resources, is studying the effects of irrigation changes and other factors on California climate.

How are models used at Lake Tahoe to predict the lake’s clarity?

Lake Tahoe’s clarity is largely affected by very fine particles that come from the air or enter the lake with the runoff from streams and urban areas. As precipitation patterns continue to change in response to climate change — for example more rain and less snow — and as the runoff changes with earlier snowmelt, the quantity and size of fine particles will change. Geoff Schladow, director of the Tahoe Environmental Research Center, uses models to predict the magnitude of changes in clarity due to climate change.

How will natural and human-caused forcing of the stratosphere affect global climate?

Attention is focused on the effects of solar variability and increasing greenhouse gas concentrations on stratospheric ozone and temperature. Terry Nathan, professor of land, air, and water resources, is studying how natural and human-caused variations in the upper atmosphere affect the lower atmosphere.

How should we set carbon taxes and carbon permits to control climate change?

It takes expertise in environmental regulations and market structure, environmental regulation and uncertainty, and linkages between environmental and economic development to account for the dynamics of global carbon cycle in models.Y. Hossein Farzin, professor of agricultural and resource economics, forecasts and models demand and supply, pricing of fossil fuels, technological change and measures of natural resource scarcity. He has examined the optimal timing of investment in climate change policies and the economic costs of delaying action. He investigates the optimal economic incentives for the timely adoption of clean technologies and the introduction of alternative energy sources to control climate change.

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