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! Or for more details on our projects, see below.
Interested graduate students may apply to work with me at UCSB in two ways:
Through the Bren School PhD program
Or through the Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Marine Sciences
Variability in the Walker Circulation over the Last Millennium
(Ph.D. Student Opportunity)
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. On this NSF-funded project, I am collaborating with my colleagues Bronwen Konecky at Washington University in St. Louis and Sloan Coats at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; we will be combining isotope-enabled climate model simulations of the past millennium with global syntheses of isotope-based paleoclimate proxies to create new estimates of Walker Circulation strength.
PhD Student Funding Available! I am recruiting a Ph.D. student to work on this project - the details are open to discussion of course, but will involve analyzing climate model experiments (and maybe running your own!), along with working with observational and paleoclimate data. This is a great opportunity for a thesis project that will give you a solid grounding in both model- and observation-based techniques, and there are opportunities for travel to Woods Hole, Wash. U., and the National Center for Atmospheric Research.
Mechanisms of Pacific Climate Variability
(Postdoctoral Scholar Opportunity)
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. This is partly because of our lack of understanding of the underlying mechanisms, both within the equatorial Pacific and in the context of midlatitude/tropical interactions. I am beginning a DOE-funded project with Emanuele Di Lorenzo of the Georgia Institute of Technology, Matt Newman at the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory, and Luke van Roekel at Los Alamos National Laboratory to address these questions. We will be using a hierarchy of models to diagnose the dynamics of Pacific climate variability, including both simplified models (i.e. linear inverse modeling techniques) and simulations with the new DOE Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM). A key part of this project will be the generation of a new, “large ensemble” with E3SM, which will become a community resource after the completion of our work.
Postdoctoral Researcher Position Available! Do you have experience working with large climate model datasets and/or running simulations on supercomputing facilities? Have you always wanted to be involved with activities at a world-class modeling center? Then this might be the perfect postdoctoral research opportunity! I am recruiting for a postdoc to take the lead on generating future projections with E3SM and diagnosing the output; this will include spending some time at Los Alamos gaining experience with E3SM and the potential for collaborative visits to Georgia Tech, NOAA, and NCAR.
Megadrought, Climate Variability, and Climate Change
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.