Frontiers of Climate Science

in partnership with BP.

Coordinators: Paul Kushner, J. Bradley Marston, Christopher Still

Scientific Advisors: Jean M. Carlson, Gregory Falkovich, John Harte, Raymond Pierrehumbert

Climate change is upon us. The need for accurate, detailed predictions is pressing, but even the most sophisticated models running on the world's fastest computers are far from directly capturing crucial physics such as cloud formation and deep convection. First-principles models of ecosystem dynamics are even further out of reach, yet ecosystems respond to and affect climate in a wide variety of ways.

The Frontiers of Climate Science Conference will highlight the most recent developments in the science of understanding climate change. Researchers will pool their expertise to identify some of the most pressing questions.

The Conference will focus broadly on three areas:
  1. Clouds and their role in the climate system.
    Clouds are the least well understood component of the physical climate system, involving physics from the nanoscale (eg. nucleation and aerosols) all the way up to the planetary scale. But changes in the distribution of clouds (spatial, temporal, and type) may well control the character of anthropogenic climate change. In view of this critical uncertainty, we will ask which approaches of simulation, field and lab work, and statistical theory show the most promise for progress in the coming years.
  2. Atmospheric / oceanic macroturbulence and its statistical description.
    Large-scale patterns of atmospheric motion and ocean currents largely determine climate at both the planetary and the regional scale. But many aspects of the atmosphere-ocean general circulation are poorly understood. How do jet streams and currents form, what maintains them, and how will they respond to climate change? Can statistical approaches be developed that directly access average properties and thus avoid simulating the minute-to-minute weather and the small- scale ocean circulation?
  3. Ecosystem response to climate change.
    Incorporating the diversity of terrestrial and oceanic ecosystems and their complex description is a fundamental challenge in climate prediction. Recent efforts to integrate ecological models into climate simulations will be discussed, along with new models of land cover change and direct human impacts on terrestrial ecosystems.

Questions that emerge from the Conference will also serve to stimulate work during the Physics of Climate Change program that runs through July 11, 2008.

The conference format will leave plenty of time for discussions during long coffee and lunch breaks as well as pure discussion sessions at the end of each day. It will close on Saturday with a Public Forum devoted to a discussion of some of the geoengineering schemes that have been proposed as stop-gap measures to forestall global warming.

At the conference, there will be 10 two-sided boards with 44" x 68" of space available per side. Space is first come, first served. There will be a poster session on Wednesday at 4pm. Please email Jocelyn Quick (jocelyn at kitp dot ucsb dot edu) a title and abstract (abstracts are optional) if you are interested in bringing a poster.

Confirmed Speakers Include:
  • Berry, Joe
  • Fung, Inez
  • Garrett, Tim
  • Golden, Ken
  • Harte, John
  • Holloway, Greg
  • House, Kurt
  • Keith, David
  • Liu, Zhengyu
  • Majda, Andy
  • McWilliams, Jim
  • Michaels, Tony
  • Noone, David
  • O'Gorman, Paul
  • Pauluis, Olivier
  • Pierrehumbert,Raymond
  • Plumb, Alan
  • Schneider, Tapio
  • Siegel, David
  • Sobel, Adam