Understanding the relationship between the oceans and the atmosphere drives the work of climate scientists

Amy Clement, Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric and Earth Sciences, has dedicated her career to analyzing climate changes now and in the future.

The ocean has always held a special allure for atmospheric sciences professor Amy Clement.

Growing up in coastal Massachusetts, and on Long Island, New York, she often spent her free time exploring the beach, or swimming in the Atlantic Ocean. Her love of the outdoors sparked her interest in science, and today Clement bikes to work at the Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric, and Earth Sciences, so she can appreciate the beauty of Biscayne Bay—and do her part to reduce her carbon footprint.

But over the course of her career, as a climate scientist, Clement has become acutely aware of the complex mechanisms at work beneath the surface of the ocean, as well as how they interact with our atmosphere. She published research that challenged previous beliefs about Earth’s changing climate and expanded scientific knowledge about the role played by the atmosphere, clouds, and phenomena such as El Ninfrom / on nenEffect plays into weather patterns over the long term.

Along the way, I developed a network of colleagues and learned to advocate for more climate research through the American Geophysical Union (AGU). Now, as elected chair of the Division of Atmospheric Sciences at AGU, one of the largest organizations of Earth and space scientists, Clement will help support the growth of this community internationally. Overall, the AGU has 60,000 members in 137 countries and 15,000 members affiliated with the Division of Atmospheric Sciences. The organization also publishes 21 different scientific journals.

“I have always thought of the AGU as a professional, well-run organization that plays a vital role in our field,” said Clement, who became more involved with AGU after receiving the James Macelwane Award in 2007. Honor that includes becoming an AGU Fellow. Kleiman is also a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society. “I am excited to support this community of scientists and to help provide resources for them to be more successful in their careers.”

Roni Avisar, dean of the Rosenstiel School, said he was proud that Clement would have such a prominent role. Several faculty members at the Rosenstiel School, including Avissar, are AGU Fellows.

“It is the most important professional organization, at an international level, for the Earth sciences,” said Avisar, who is also an atmospheric scientist. “Honouring Amy for this position is consistent with our appreciation for her leadership in her field. It is a great honor, but also a great service to the scientific community, and we appreciate that she is fulfilling this role. In doing so, she carries with her the Rosenstiel School and University, so she will put us at the forefront of society as a graduate institution.” .

Clement has taught and conducted research as part of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the Rosenstiel School for 21 years and served as Associate Dean for Graduate Studies. Her work focuses on climate changes in the ocean and atmosphere, including sea level rise, extreme heat, and extreme precipitation to see how these climate events change from the distant past of the interglacial period to the future. Clement is now doing research to work out how much extreme weather we’re seeing today is due to human-generated pollution, and what’s due to natural variance.

“For example, it can take a year or a decade for sea level rise to be much higher here in Florida than elsewhere,” she said. “We’re trying to determine how much of it is directly caused by humans, and how much of it is a consequence of the change in ocean circulation.”

Prior to joining the university as a faculty member, Clement spent her undergraduate and graduate years at Columbia University, where she had the opportunity to learn under some of the world’s leading climate scientists, such as James Hansen, who testified before Congress in 1989 about the evidence for warming. man-made world; Wallace Brooker, who pioneered the use of radiocarbon dating and isotopes to understand past climate variability and discovered the “ocean conveyor belt” of heat (which is used to help understand climate); and Mark Kane, Clement’s PhD advisor, who, with a colleague, created the first computer model capable of predicting LNE.no The effect of the Southern Oscillation.

“This central quest to discover something new and fundamental about the way the Earth works is the main driver for me,” Clement said in the 2019 broadcast of Deep Convection.

When she was a graduate student, Clement went to her first AGU conference and presented a paper. While she had to discuss her own research with seasoned climate experts, Clement welcomed the opportunity, and still does.

“It’s so exciting to be at the center of the debate and I feel fortunate to be participating in this way,” Clement said on the podcast. “For really lively, ongoing debates.”

Some of this includes Clement’s early research, which showed that a mechanism called a “thermostat” might cool the equatorial Pacific as temperatures rise around the world. At the time, Clement faced backlash for her theory, but now the phenomenon is starting to show, and the equatorial Pacific is starting to cool. Since the Pacific Ocean – the world’s largest and deepest basin – also affects the global atmosphere and temperature, Clement argued that this thermostat mechanism is trying to cool the ocean and equalize the planet’s heat amid global warming.

Using advanced climate modeling, Clement also co-published a study that explained why Europe maintains warmer temperatures during the winter than other continents at its latitude. It concluded that the Rocky Mountains in North America divert some of the cold air southward, causing it to warm before it heads off to Europe.

In recent months, Clement’s team published a study showing that the North Atlantic region being cooled does not indicate a significant slowdown in the Atlantic meridian overturning circulation (AMOC), which transfers energy to the region. Because geological records indicate that a slowing of the AMOC often heralds major climate changes, it was thought that this cooling could herald an event as dramatic as a sudden ice age captured in the movie “The Day After Tomorrow,” but Clement’s study showed that it is unlikely that we do that. We see such a catastrophic effect in the near future.

These experiences have served her to advocate for her research and collaborate with scientists around the world in recent years, as Clement has expanded her involvement with climate issues beyond the laboratory. She currently leads two interdisciplinary research teams as part of the University’s Lab for Integrative Knowledge (U-LINK) – one exploring how to engage the public in climate adaptation planning, and the other aiming to identify the most affected areas of Miami. by extreme heat.

Amy Kleiman with Joanna Lombard
Joanna Lombard speaks with Amy Clement at the U-LINK workshop.

Outside of the university, Clement is Vice Chair of the City of Miami Committee on Climate Resilience and is Co-Director of Resilient 305 Collaborative – a partnership between local higher education institutions, governments, and environmental organizations across Miami-Dade County. She is also a member of the board of directors for the Miami Waterkeeper, an organization that aims to protect the waters and ecosystems of South Florida.

“What I’m bringing to the table is understanding the role of research and new data collection on this problem of preparing for future climate change,” Clement said. “I get a great deal of personal satisfaction from being able to get society to think ahead about this issue, rather than react or not respond.”

Joanna Lombard, a professor of architecture who also teaches in the Department of Public Health at Miller College of Medicine, has become a close colleague of Clement and works with her on the U-LINK team exploring climate adaptation strategies. She wasn’t surprised Clement was elected to lead the AGU, seeing Clement of the county’s Resilient 305 Collaborative with Florida International University professor Tiffany Troxler a few years ago. It is now 100 members strong.

said Lombard, who also works with Clement on “Grove 2030,” a grassroots group formed in 2014 to envision a resilient future for Coconut Grove, and is a research fellow on the faculty of the university’s Leonard and Jane Upps Center for Environmental Systems Science and Policy. “Amy is unifying, not dividing, and that really matters.”

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