Antarctica's Ice Shelves Could be Melting Faster than We Thought
A new model developed by Caltech and JPL researchers suggests that Antarctica's ice shelves may be melting at an accelerated rate, which could eventually contribute to more rapid sea level rise. The study was conducted in the laboratory of Andrew Thompson, Professor of Environmental Science and Engineering. "There are aspects of the climate system that we are still discovering," Thompson says. "As we've made progress in our ability to model interactions between the ocean, ice shelves, and atmosphere, we're able to make more accurate predictions with better constraints on uncertainty. We may need to revisit some of the predictions of sea level rise in the next decades or century—that's work that we'll do going forward." [Caltech story]
Smruthi Karthikeyan Joins ESE
The Environmental Science and Engineering department is pleased to announce that Dr. Smruthi Karthikeyan will join Caltech in January 2023 as an assistant professor in the Division of Engineering and Applied Science. Dr. Karthikeyan is currently a postdoctoral research scholar at the University of California San Diego where she is developing techniques for studying microbial community dynamics in complex ecosystems. She obtained her PhD in Environmental Engineering with a minor in Microbiology and Microbial Ecology from Georgia Institute of Technology in 2020. Her research interests lie at the interface of microbial ecology, computational biology and engineering. She builds predictive models that integrate physicochemical and transport data with multi-omic (DNA, RNA and metabolome-level) data to make accurate predictions of microbial community responses to environmental perturbations.
Professor Wennberg Named as AAAS Fellow
Paul O. Wennberg, R. Stanton Avery Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Environmental Science and Engineering; Executive Officer for Environmental Science and Engineering; Director, Ronald and Maxine Linde Center for Global Environmental Science, has been named as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for major scientific advances in atmospheric chemistry. AAAS Fellows are a distinguished cadre of scientists, engineers, and innovators who have been recognized for their achievements across disciplines, from research, teaching, and technology, to administration in academia, industry, and government, to excellence in communicating and interpreting science to the public. [Caltech story]
Wennberg Lab Shows How Wildfire Smoke Increases Ozone Pollution
Using data gathered from a specially equipped jet that spent a month flying through and studying wildfire plumes, scientists have a better understanding now of how wildfire smoke impacts air quality. "Of course it is well known that wildfires lower air quality. But it's important to understand the chemical and physical mechanisms by which they do so that we can more effectively forecast how individual fires will impact the communities downwind of them," says Paul O. Wennberg, R. Stanton Avery Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Environmental Science and Engineering; Executive Officer for Environmental Science and Engineering; Director, Ronald and Maxine Linde Center for Global Environmental Science. [Caltech story]
EAS New Horizons Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Award
The Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences seeks nominations to recognize and honor individuals within the EAS community who have actively contributed to EAS’s goal to be a diverse, equitable, and inclusive engineering community. The award is available to members of the EAS community, including current students, postdoctoral scholars, staff, and faculty. Nominations are due Wednesday, May 19, 2021 and are accepted from anyone in the EAS community, EAS alumni and members of the Caltech community. Click here for full description of how to make a nomination.
Soil Moisture Drives Year-to-Year Change in Land Carbon Uptake
Earth's land ecosystems absorb a large portion of all the carbon dioxide emissions produced by human activities, helping to slow global warming. On average for a given year, plants and soil take up, or fix, about 30 percent of human emissions. But from one year to the next, that number can be as high as 40 percent or as low as 20 percent. Climate scientists aim to pin down exactly what produces this variability so they can account for it and create the most accurate models for predicting future climate. "Our results show that soil moisture significantly impacts near-surface temperatures and atmospheric humidity because of these land–atmosphere feedbacks," says Christian Frankenberg, Professor of Environmental Science and Engineering; Jet Propulsion Laboratory Research Scientist. [Caltech story]
Solar Geoengineering May Not be a Long-Term Solution for Climate Change
Pumping aerosols into the atmosphere to reflect sunlight, thus cooling Earth, is one last-ditch method for dealing with climate change. According to new research, solar geoengineering may fail to prevent catastrophic warming in the long run. It would not prevent high atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations from destabilizing low-lying clouds, opening the door to extreme warming. "Solar geoengineering ultimately may not fix the problem if high greenhouse gas emissions continue for more than a century," says Tapio Schneider, Theodore Y. Wu Professor of Environmental Science and Engineering; Jet Propulsion Laboratory Senior Research Scientist. [Caltech story]