Dynamics of past, present, and future climates

The climate dynamics group at UC Santa Cruz studies fundamental features of the climate system, such as large-scale patterns of temperature, precipitation, and clouds on Earth and other planets. We use observational data and simulations ranging from simple energy balance models, to aquaplanet models with full-complexity atmospheres but devoid of continents, to the most sophisticated class of coupled ocean-atmosphere general circulation models. Theories addressed at understanding atmospheric dynamics help us interpret changes in climate that have occurred over the Earth’s past, as well as those changes likely to occur in the future. Our investigations lead to such questions as the following:

  • What controls the position and strength of the tropical rain belts and midlatitude storm tracks?
  • How does the coupling between atmosphere, ocean, and sea ice impact high-latitude climate change and variability?
  • Why is polar amplification of climate change weaker in the Antarctic compared to the Arctic?