I currently have several projects underway or about to begin. If you are a potential graduate student or postdoctoral researcher interested in any of these topics, please feel free to contact me!
Variability in the Walker Circulation over the Last Millennium
The Walker circulation is one of the dominant features of the atmospheric general circulation, setting the strength of the equatorial trade winds and playing a strong role in the El Nino/Southern Oscillation cycle. However, there is still much debate about the sign and magnitude of 20th century trends in the Walker circulation relative to pre-industrial variability, as well as the mechanisms driving those trends. I am collaborating with colleagues on combining isotope-enabled climate model simulations of the past millennium with global syntheses of isotope-based paleoclimate proxies to shed additional light on this issue.
Understanding Future Changes to El Nino and La Nina Extremes
As with the Walker circulation, the effect of climate change on the properties of El Nino and La Nina events remains uncertain, even in the latest generation of coupled climate models. I plan to use large 'ensemble' sets of simulations with multiple models using multiple choices of relevant parameters to understand the dynamics of those changes, and the degree to which anthropogenic influences are playing a detectable role.
Climate Variability, Climate Change, and Megadrought
Drought in arid regions such as the American Southwest has drastic influences on water resources, human health, ecosystems, and other sectors. These events are expected to become more intense under climate change, but the relative roles of background trends in temperature/precipitation and climate variability are still not well constrained. Opportunities exist to analyze existing sets of climate model output or to construct new experiments to understand the physical drivers of drought and how they may change in a warming world.
The Future of Climate Impacts on Coral Reefs
Tropical coral reefs are vulnerable to many stressors both natural and anthropogenic, including temperature-driven bleaching, overfishing, and runoff. The role of extreme events may be highly significant in determining the future of reefs, as was seen in many environments during the 2015-16 El Nino event. I am interested in constructing regional ocean model simulations to examine variability in conditions local to reefs in various parts of the Pacific; such projects may potentially include a field component, depending on the availability of funding.