NSF Postdoctoral Fellow

    National Science Foundation

    University of California, Irvine
    Department of Earth System Science
    Advisor: James Randerson
    Advisor: Michael Pritchard

    University of California, San Diego
    Scripps Institution of Oceanography
    Advisor: Richard Somerville

    My research investigates critical uncertainties in our understanding of Earth's climate system using controlled numerical experiments enabled by new techniques in global climate simulation. I focus on the roles of clouds and convective processes, which provide a critical link between the hydrologic and energy cycles through sensible and latent heat transport, precipitation, solar reflectance (albedo), and infrared absorption (greenhouse effect). Important cloud processes occur on scales as small as micrometer droplet nucleation, which can influence cloud reflectivity, planetary albedo, and thus the global energy balance. Small changes in cloud properties due to anthropogenic climate change can both damp and enhance climate trends, and influence the frequency and intensity of extreme events (e.g. flooding, droughts, and heat waves).

    Representing the multi-scale nature of these processes in global climate models is a frontier challenge of climate research. As a doctoral student, I was supported by the NSF Science and Technology Center for Multiscale Modeling of Atmospheric Processes (CMMAP), which aims to improve the representation of cloud processes in climate models by simultaneously resolving cloud-scale and large-scale motion, in an approach called super-parameterization. In this approach, two-dimensional cloud-resolving models are embedded in each column of the Community Atmosphere Model (CAM) to explicitly resolve cloud processes on their native scales, replacing conventional statistical parameterizations.

    Applying this new technology, my dissertation addressed some of the largest uncertainties limiting our ability to project future climate change related to cloud processes: aerosol indirect effects, organized convection, and regional and extreme rainfall changes. Now, as an NSF postdoctoral fellow my focus has shifted to interdisciplinary frontiers in climate science: understanding land-atmosphere interactions and their impact on atmospheric convection and rainfall. Together convective precipitation processes and land-atmosphere energetics control many aspects of the climate system that are critical to society including the availability of freshwater, droughts, floods, and temperature extremes.