Environmental Science and Engineering Seminar

Wednesday February 7, 2018 4:00 PM

Climate Change in the West African Monsoon: Confusion, Consensus, and the Way Forward

Speaker: Michela Biasutti, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University
Location: South Mudd 365

How do we adapt to climate change? In some cases, adaptation means becoming resilient to current climate extremes. In others it means preparing for unprecedented environmental pressures. Climate projections need to be reliable at the regional scale in order for society to allocate resources between these two options. In this talk I will review the climatic changes projected for the monsoon regions of North Africa and I will explore how we can tell if such projections are indeed reliable. I will show that a model's ability to capture the modes of rainfall variability of the 20th century does not guarantee a reliable projection for the 21st century. Instead, the dynamics of the annual cycle might be a better model for future changes. Yet, the annual cycle of tropical rainfall itself is still poorly understood and more theoretical work is needed to understand the role of land-sea contrast and convection characteristics in its evolution. I will introduce a publicly available dataset of idealized simulations that aims to further research in this direction.

Series Environmental Science and Engineering Seminar

Contact: Kathy Bravo at 626-395-8724 kbravo@gps.caltech.edu