Wk 6: Duffy

Projecting future climate: Methods, Limitations, and Challenges

Philip Duffy

Scientific Director, Palo Alto Office, and Senior Research Scientist, Climate Central, Inc.

4-5:30, Tuesday, October 20, 2009, LH 1

PLATO Royalty Lecture Series[1]

Phil Duffy current Science Director at Climate Central; affiliate with the UC Institute for Research on Climate Change and its Societal Impacts (3 November 2009) discussed time scales involved with modeling and some unknowns such as future CO2 emissions as limits. “The hard part isn’t solving equations but figuring the value of the rate at which particles absorb heat.” Wildcards (like clouds) and uncertainty compel extensive refinement of large precipitation “blocks” currently used for modeling.

Abstract: Widespread acceptance of the idea that humans are changing climate is creating increased interest in having accurate projections of future climate  made by using complex computer models that treat the atmosphere, ocean, sea ice, land surface, and some biota. Dr. Duffy thoroughly discussed the history of climate models, the difference between climate and weather, how climate models work, and how well their results compare to observation as well as some challenges created by the desire to incorporate climate change information into real-world decisions through finer spatial resolution and rigorous quantification of uncertainty.

The Speaker: Dr. Philip Duffy is Scientific Director of the Palo Alto Office and Senior Research Scientist (Climate Central, Inc.), Visiting Scholar (Carnegie Institute for Science), Director (University of California Institute for Research on Climate Change and its Societal Impacts – IRCSSI), and Physicist (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory).

Dr. Duffy has worked in climate research for 20 years, mostly as a physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, in many areas of climate-change science. His current focus is on making projections of future climate that are suitable for assessing societal impacts of climate change (for example impacts on water availability and biodiversity) and on working with groups making this sort of assessment. He has published over 60 peer-reviewed papers on many aspects of climate science, atomic physics, and astrophysics. As a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), he shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Dr. Duffy holds a BS degree in astrophysics from Harvard and a Ph.D. in applied physics from Stanford.

Slides from Dr. Duffy’s talk are here.

Companion Reading ( Note to Students:  Please be aware that your program might have additional or different reading! Check your respective program web site. )

  1. David R. Easterling and Michael F. Wehner.  Is the climate warming or cooling? Submitted to Geophysical Research Letters.
  2. Gerard H. Roe and Marcia B. Baker.  2007.  Why is Climate Sensitivity so Unpredictable? Science 318, 629 (2007); DOI 10.11267/science.1144735.

[1] This Lecture is sponsored by Evergreen’s PLATO Royalty Fund, established with royalties from computer assisted instruction (CAI) software, written by Evergreen faculty John Aikin Cushing and students in the early 1980’s, for the Control Data PLATO system.

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