6 April, 2001
John Weatherly, Ice Geophysicist, Global Climate Models
John Weatherly of the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) of Hanover, New Hampshire, specializes in the improvement of global climate models representing ice and the Arctic climate. Dr. Weatherly's focus is on computer models that demonstrate how ice responds to the climate in Polar Regions. Working with existing models, John creates new computer models for the improvement of their comparison of data.
Dr. Weatherly works with two main groups of scientists; those who go to the field to collect data on ice properties and those comprising the global climate community. The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado is an example of one of these communities.
A question this community might ask is, "How is the ice melting"? In contrast, the field scientists go into the Polar Regions to take measurements where the ice is melting. John Weatherly takes this data and compares it to the predictions of global climate models. He then works to improve these models to better their comparisons of this data.
Because of the structure of its ecosystems, the Arctic is an excellent place for the study of global climate changes. Global climate models indicate that changes will first be observed in the Arctic. This is due to the climate's influences on the Arctic's fragile ecosystems.
Global climate studies address how humans affect the climate (i.e. greenhouse gases), how the climate of the globe affects the Arctic and how the climate changes in the Arctic affect Arctic peoples and the global populations. The global climate model that the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) has developed is probably the most comprehensive existing model for these studies.
Is the climate warming? It appears to be warming due to the human contributions to greenhouse gases. There are different models with a range of estimates of how much warming can be expected. What is being observed in climate warming is the extreme periods of hot temperatures that occur occasionally. Although warmer temperatures seem to be more frequent, and probably will increasingly occur, cold winters are also to be expected. Temperatures will not always be warmer all of the time.
The Arctic System Science Program (ARCSS) at the National Science Foundation (NSF) represents climate modeling as it relates to polar science. From ARCSS, other NSF sponsored programs are explored for ways they can be connected to better understand global climate changes in the Arctic.
For further information on global climate models, navigate the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) website at http://www.ncar.ucar.edu. NCAR was founded in 1960 for research on atmospheric and related scientific problems. Also investigate the Arctic System Science Program (ARCSS) website, http://www.nsf.gov/od/opp/arctic/system.htm, for news, publications and contact information. Information on Dr. John Weatherly's current and past projects including links and contact information may be found on his CRREL web page at http://www.crrel.usace.army.mil/sid/personnel/weatherly.html.
By Sandra Kolb, March 2001
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