Are the changes in the Arctic messing with our weather? Analysis

By: Dr. Ricky Rood , 9:20 PM GMT on January 26, 2014

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Are the changes in the Arctic messing with our weather? Analysis

In the last blog, I promised an analysis of why I conclude that what is happening in the Arctic makes it to my list of the big-ticket items of the past year.

I want to start with the work of Jennifer Francis and her collaborators. Professor Francis gave an excellent seminar in my department last week, which can be viewed here. This seminar uses as a foundation the paper Francis and Vavrus (2012), Evidence linking Arctic amplification to extreme weather in mid-latitudes. There is a whole set of coherent and convergent evidence that documents the changes in the Arctic. There is an increase in temperature, which is much greater in the Arctic than at lower latitudes and in the tropics (Polar or Arctic amplification). This has led to large changes in Arctic sea ice and springtime snow cover. There has been a lengthening of the growing season and an increase in activity in the northern forests – the greening of the Arctic (200 blogs ago, Getting Ready for Spring 5).

In the past, roughly, 15 years, there has been an observed change in the of the Arctic sea-level atmospheric pressure (see previous blog). The pressure is slightly higher, which leads to a weakening of the stream of air that flows around the North Pole. I wrote a tutorial about this in Wobbles in the Barrier. Also in the past decade there have been a number of researchers, for example, Liu et al. (2012) who in Impact of declining Arctic sea ice on winter snowfall – noted circulation patterns that have “ … some resemblance to the negative phase of the winter Arctic oscillation. However, the atmospheric circulation change linked to the reduction of sea ice shows much broader meridional meanders in midlatitudes and clearly different interannual variability than the classical Arctic oscillation.”

These papers lead to a few questions. Are the changes in the Arctic sea-level pressure a direct consequence of local changes in the Arctic, or are they more closely related to changes in global circulation patterns? Are changes in the Arctic sea-level pressure causing changes in weather in the middle latitudes? Are the differences we have seen in the past 15 years indicative of a climate-change related differences in weather patterns? Is what we have traditionally called the Arctic Oscillation changing?

Trenberth and Fasullo are following the heat of the warming earth, with the primary goal of understanding of how much heat is contributing to warming the Earth’s surface air temperature versus how much is going to heating the ocean and melting ice and snow. Their focus is on approximately the past 15 years. Therefore, they pay attention to known ways that the atmosphere and ocean vary (Some previous tutorials: Still Following the Heat and Ocean, Atmosphere, Ice and Land). Trenberth and Fasullo document the strong influence of the 1997-1998 El Nino. El Nino typically has a large effect on global temperature. The 1997-1998 El Nino was especially large. Trenberth and Fasullo show that the temperature in the atmosphere and oceans still remembers the 1997-1998 El Nino. They also examine the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, which is characterized by sea surface temperature differences being above (or below) average in the north-central Pacific while they are below (or above) in the north and east Pacific near the Aleutian Islands and the Gulf of Alaska. The Pacific Decadal Oscillation has been in a pattern of being cooler than average in the north and east Pacific since the 1997-1998 El Nino. Trenberth and Fasullo document a pattern that spans the globe, and the changes in the Arctic are part of that pattern. Conversely, their analysis would suggest that the global aspects of circulation pattern are too large to be caused by changes in the Arctic – it just takes too much energy.

What might be a scientifically based difference between whether changes in the Arctic are part of a global pattern or caused by the loss of sea ice changing the absorption and reflection of solar energy is to some extent not relevant to the question about weather patterns over the U.S. My experience in scientific controversies of this nature is that there are usually both global and local pieces to the puzzle. Further, changes in the U.S. weather could be directly linked to changes in the Arctic as well as to global patterns. In both the Trenberth and Fasullo and the Francis and Vavrus (2012) analysis there are consequential changes in jet stream pattern which is strongly influential to weather in the U.S. and, in fact, all of the middle latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere.

It’s not surprising that changes in the polar jet stream, the river of air that meanders around the North Pole, would have a profound effect on weather in the U.S. The waves that make up the weather systems of winter storms, for example, draw their energy from the environment that forms the jet stream. The jet stream steers these storms. In classes on dynamical meteorology, students learn that what is going on at the jet stream is often better information for forecasting weather than what is going on at the surface. Though there is a direct link between the jet stream and weather systems, the path of cause and effect in the changes in the Arctic, changes in the jet stream and changes to extreme events in the U.S. is not easy to map.

We have seen observations from Francis and Vavrus and Liu et al. (2012) that suggest large meanders in the jet stream. Both of these papers suggest that the scale of these meanders is unprecedented and does not fit easily into the framework we have used historically to describe the Arctic Oscillation - the primary way we describe correlated variability between the Arctic and the middle latitudes. In addition to the Arctic Oscillation, another characteristic we use to describe mid-latitude weather is blocking. Blocking describes a pattern of atmospheric flow, perhaps a particular configuration of the jet stream. Blocking slows or stops the normal west-to-east movement of storms around the Earth. Here is a nice description of blocking. Blocking is most common with high pressure, and high pressure is associated with the northern meanders of the jet stream. Note, blocking is associated with the meanders in the jet stream, but large meanders do not always mean that our definition of “block” is fulfilled. Blocking patterns are difficult to predict on a case-by-case basis. Blocking patterns are known to be associated with droughts, floods, heat waves and cold snaps. Therefore, when we look to a way that changes in the jet stream might change the weather over the U.S. we logically look a changes in blocking, which will discussed more fully in next blog.

r

Cold Weather in Denver: Climate Change and Arctic Oscillation (8)

Climate Change and the Arctic Oscillation 2

Climate Change and the Arctic Oscillation 1

Wobbles in the Barriers

Barriers in the Atmosphere

Behavior

Definitions and Some Background

August Arctic Oscillation presentation

CPC Climate Glossary “The Arctic Oscillation is a pattern in which atmospheric pressure at polar and middle latitudes fluctuates between negative and positive phases.”





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Warm temps blamed for massive avalanche that cut off Alaskan town

Link
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20417
Quoting 188. ColoradoBob1:


Kudzoo has a better plan.


Yes it seems to follow what the Pine Beetle is doing..
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20417
Today's selection of articles about science, climate change, energy and the environment.

!!! U.S. Oil Production Keeps Rising Beyond the Forecasts

*** Accidents Surge as Oil Industry Takes the Train

FEMA: Caught Between Climate Change and Congress

!!! Canada Natives Block Energy Projects: 'We Own It All'

!!! Global Warming Battle Is Over Market Share, Not Science

Ski Resorts Seen as Buyout Targets Amid U.S. West Drought

!!! Historical Sea Ice Atlas


Is there an ocean beneath our feet? Ocean water may reach upper mantle through deep sea faults

How did we get four limbs? Because we have a belly

River of hydrogen flowing through space observed


*** Plague or Black Death could re-emerge: Cause of one of the most devastating pandemics in human history revealed

* Electrical generator uses bacterial spores to harness power of evaporating water

Asian ozone pollution in Hawaii is tied to climate variability

*** Teenage polar explorer on quest to raise climate change awareness Nathan? Cody? Isaac?

Idaho lawmakers: $2M aimed to kill more than 500 wolves

*** Brazil scientists warn on dwindling jaguar population

!!! Whale shark factory found in China

Speckled trout returns to Lake Pontchartrain

Texas airdrop program targets rabies, skunks

*** Unfazed by environmental challenges, coal industry mounts PR assault

* Beings Not Made for Space

From Warheads to Cheap Energy

The Older Mind May Just Be a Fuller Mind

* Examining the Square Root of D'oh! (book review)

************************************************* ************************************************** *******

The following articles are courtesy of etxwx:

Texas to proceed with water lawsuit against NM

Sanchez Energy output surges in the Eagle Ford

New power lines may be coming to Houston

* Obama likely to target natural gas, climate change in State of the Union


*** Monitoring Corporate Behavior: Greening or Merely Greenwash?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: June 27, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 3454

Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20417
Quoting 183. ColoradoBob1:


That's why kudzoo is smarter than Ted Cruz .


Agreed...
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20417
Quoting 181. ColoradoBob1:
I am really trying to understand the logic....Please expand if needed.....

First you missed , 8th grade biology. Not 21st century politics.

Biology doesn't give a rat's fuzzy butt about politics. That's why 100,000 ticks can kill a yearly moose now.


I bet toenail fungus is smarter...
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20417
Quoting 178. ColoradoBob1:
Quoting 173. ColoradoBob1:


It's a metaphor. The smallest living things make the jump to a new climate first. From viruses to bacteria to yeasts to diatoms to insects to the higher life forms.

All these creatures have rode the climate roller coaster since life first appeared. They do it by rolling their populations very fast. The pine beetle once produced only one generation a year, in Colorado, now they produce 2 generations a year. And they do it at ever higher altitudes .

That's why they are smarter than the entire Republican Party.


It's also why kudzoo , a wheat rust from Africa, and Burmese pythons are smarter than entire Republican Party.


Holy Moly a plant is smarter...LOL...
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20417
Quoting 175. ColoradoBob1:


This is why a big creature , like a yearly moose in New Hampshire,is now found dead with 100,000 ticks on him.


Oh! So now it's Ticks, Cockroaches,Pine Beetles and West Nile Virus... I doubt we have enough space here to complete a list...
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20417
177. yoboi
Quoting 173. ColoradoBob1:


It's a metaphor. The smallest living things make the jump to a new climate first. From viruses to bacteria to yeasts to diatoms to insects to the higher life forms.

All these creatures have rode the climate roller coaster since life first appeared. They do it by rolling their populations very fast. The pine beetle once produced only one generation a year, in Colorado, now they produce 2 generations a year. And they do it at ever higher altitudes .

That's why they are smarter than the entire Republican Party
.


So if you mass produce you are better than a Republican....Hmmmm never hear that one before.....What happens if you can't support what you mass produced??? Does that make a smart Democrat???? I am really trying to understand the logic....Please expand if needed.....
Member Since: August 25, 2010 Posts: 7 Comments: 2402
Why Climate Change Is Ignored

Jay Mandle

Professor of Economics, Colgate University

Posted: 01/26/2014 10:31 pm


Excerpt:

"What is at work politically is not a concern for future generations, but the raw exercise of power by the oil and gas industries. During the 2012 election cycle, individuals associated with those industries contributed $72.7 million to congressional candidates, compared to $2.7 million in donations provided by the alternative energy industries. The gap was even wider with respect to lobbying: $141.1 spent by oil and gas, $24.3 million by alternative energy. Democrats as well as Republicans are beholden to the traditional energy sector. Alternative energy gave $1.6 million to Democrats compared to the $5.9 million those same office seekers received from the non-renewable sector. (6)"
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting 173. ColoradoBob1:


It's a metaphor. The smallest living things make the jump to a new climate first. From viruses to bacteria to yeasts to diatoms to insects to the higher life forms.

All these creatures have rode the climate roller coaster since life first appeared. They do it by rolling their populations very fast. The pine beetle once produced only one generation a year, in Colorado, now they produce 2 generations a year. And they do it at ever higher altitudes .

That's why they are smarter than the entire Republican Party.


Well minus one at least...
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20417
The trend downstream and from the past years, all show a Bias toward the Warmer solutions in 100 years, 50, years.


So Rosy is not our Futcha'
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
Quoting 170. ColoradoBob1:


And we rocketing past 400 PPM of CO2 in the atmosphere.


Correct 450ppm in 16 years...
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20417
Quoting 166. overwash12:
The Poles are shifting!


Can we get that with burning fossil fuel GHG's??? Let's ask Dr. Rood....
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20417
Quoting 165. Patrap:
A musical investigation into the causes and effects of global climate change and our opportunities to use science to offset it. Featuring Bill Nye, David Attenborough, Richard Alley and Isaac Asimov.

"Our Biggest Challenge" is the 16th episode of the Symphony of Science series by melodysheep.




Sadly none of their proposals work fast enough in this video....We are stuck in business as usual for the next 1000 years unless a better proposal exists...
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20417
Quoting 157. cyclonebuster:


Correct on some of it but incorrect on some of it also... My advice to you is to listen to what the environment tells you...
Quoting 156. cyclonebuster:



Alaska is warmer than Alabama...
The Poles are shifting!
Member Since: June 24, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1479
A musical investigation into the causes and effects of global climate change and our opportunities to use science to offset it. Featuring Bill Nye, David Attenborough, Richard Alley and Isaac Asimov.

"Our Biggest Challenge" is the 16th episode of the Symphony of Science series by melodysheep.


Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129093
164. yoboi
Quoting 163. Birthmark:

Apparently, cb's tunnels are to be built by pine beetles...or something.



Oh ok...well hope the pilings are not made out of pine trees......

Edit. It would not surprise me either because in his youtube video he is dumping red antifreeze into the river....Look for yourself.....
Member Since: August 25, 2010 Posts: 7 Comments: 2402
Quoting 162. yoboi:



Maybe I missed this on the blog....but what is this always about a pine beetle????

Apparently, cb's tunnels are to be built by pine beetles...or something.
Member Since: October 30, 2005 Posts: 7 Comments: 5469
162. yoboi
Quoting 160. Birthmark:

Completely uncalled for.



Maybe I missed this on the blog....but what is this always about a pine beetle????
Member Since: August 25, 2010 Posts: 7 Comments: 2402
Quoting 160. Birthmark:

Completely uncalled for.


Ok is this better... So simple a "Cave Man" understands it....
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20417
Quoting 153. cyclonebuster:

Completely uncalled for.
Member Since: October 30, 2005 Posts: 7 Comments: 5469
Alaska is warmer than Atlanta Georgia...
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20417
Quoting 150:
Another paper shows that the Arctic was warmer during the MWP than the present.
Ah, poor Kochise, you've been duped yet again. The abstract states that a) volcanic episodes cooled the Fennoscandian climate from 1200-1400AD, and b) there've been oscillations on Fennoscandian temperatures caused by internal SST oscillations. Nothing more. However, I do find it funny that THS elected to disinclude this graph of NH temperatures. Why do you suppose that is?:

ha

Tsea (red) and Northern Hemisphere temperature estimates of Kaufman09 (black, 10 year averages) between 400-2000 AD. Central years of some 10 year periods are indicated.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13607
Quoting 155. VAbeachhurricanes:


Right.

I know that you don't actually have a realistic solution to the problem. It is so easy to come on here and say "Oh we should never burn anything ever, humans are evil."

Yet when someone actually challenges you to present an actual answer, you pull some philosophical bull to try and sound smart.

Then a snobby remark to reassure yourself that you are in fact smart.

You got all the bases covered.


Correct on some of it but incorrect on some of it also... My advice to you is to listen to what the environment tells you...
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20417
Quoting 154. Neapolitan:
Speaking of Alaska, Nome is currently at an incredible 50F. This statement is from a few hours ago:

PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FAIRBANKS AK
1156 AM AKST MON JAN 27 2014

...ALL-TIME JANUARY HIGH TEMPERATURES SET IN NORTHERN ALASKA...

A RECORD WARM AIRMASS HAS RESULTED IN MANY LOCATIONS TYING OR
SETTING RECORD DAILY TEMPERATURES ACROSS NORTHERN ALASKA THE PAST
SEVERAL DAYS. SOME LONG TERM STATIONS HAVE BROKEN ALL-TIME
JANUARY HIGH TEMPERATURES...INCLUDING DENALI NATIONAL PARK
HEADQUARTERS AND NOME. JANUARY RECORDS WERE LIKELY SET AT SOME
OTHER LOCATIONS BUT THEY EITHER LACK A LONG PERIOD OF RECORD OR
OBSERVED TEMPERATURES.

ON SUNDAY THE 26TH THE TEMPERATURE CLIMBED TO A SCORCHING 52
DEGREES AT DENALI NATIONAL PARK HEADQUARTERS. THIS IS THE WARMEST
TEMPERATURE EVER RECORDED AT THE PARK HEADQUARTERS IN JANUARY
DURING THE PAST 92 YEARS OF OBSERVATIONS. THE PREVIOUS RECORD FOR
THE MONTH WAS 51 DEGREES SET ON JANUARY 21ST 1961. FOR
REFERENCE...52 DEGREES IS THE NORMAL HIGH TEMPERATURE IN MID MAY
AT THE PARK HEADQUARTERS. THE NORMAL HIGH FOR JANUARY 26TH IS 11
DEGREES ABOVE ZERO.

AT NOME...THE TEMPERATURE HAS SOARED TO 48 DEGREES THIS MORNING.
THIS IS WARMEST TEMPERATURE EVER OBSERVED IN JANUARY AT NOME SINCE
RECORDS BEGAN IN 1906. THE PREVIOUS RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE FOR
THE MONTH OF JANUARY WAS 46 DEGREES SET ON JANUARY 7TH 1942. FOR
REFERENCE...48 DEGREES IS THE NORMAL HIGH TEMPERATURE IN LATE MAY
AT NOME. THE NORMAL HIGH FOR JANUARY 27TH IS 13 DEGREES ABOVE
ZERO. IT IS POSSIBLE THE RECORD COULD BE FURTHER BROKEN TODAY.



Alaska is warmer than Alabama...
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20417
Quoting 153. cyclonebuster:


So simple a "Pine Beetle" understands it...


Right.

I know that you don't actually have a realistic solution to the problem. It is so easy to come on here and say "Oh we should never burn anything ever, humans are evil."

Yet when someone actually challenges you to present an actual answer, you pull some philosophical bull to try and sound smart.

Then a snobby remark to reassure yourself that you are in fact smart.

You got all the bases covered.
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6670
Speaking of Alaska, Nome is currently at an incredible 50F. This statement is from a few hours ago:

PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FAIRBANKS AK
1156 AM AKST MON JAN 27 2014

...ALL-TIME JANUARY HIGH TEMPERATURES SET IN NORTHERN ALASKA...

A RECORD WARM AIRMASS HAS RESULTED IN MANY LOCATIONS TYING OR
SETTING RECORD DAILY TEMPERATURES ACROSS NORTHERN ALASKA THE PAST
SEVERAL DAYS. SOME LONG TERM STATIONS HAVE BROKEN ALL-TIME
JANUARY HIGH TEMPERATURES...INCLUDING DENALI NATIONAL PARK
HEADQUARTERS AND NOME. JANUARY RECORDS WERE LIKELY SET AT SOME
OTHER LOCATIONS BUT THEY EITHER LACK A LONG PERIOD OF RECORD OR
OBSERVED TEMPERATURES.

ON SUNDAY THE 26TH THE TEMPERATURE CLIMBED TO A SCORCHING 52
DEGREES AT DENALI NATIONAL PARK HEADQUARTERS. THIS IS THE WARMEST
TEMPERATURE EVER RECORDED AT THE PARK HEADQUARTERS IN JANUARY
DURING THE PAST 92 YEARS OF OBSERVATIONS. THE PREVIOUS RECORD FOR
THE MONTH WAS 51 DEGREES SET ON JANUARY 21ST 1961. FOR
REFERENCE...52 DEGREES IS THE NORMAL HIGH TEMPERATURE IN MID MAY
AT THE PARK HEADQUARTERS. THE NORMAL HIGH FOR JANUARY 26TH IS 11
DEGREES ABOVE ZERO.

AT NOME...THE TEMPERATURE HAS SOARED TO 48 DEGREES THIS MORNING.
THIS IS WARMEST TEMPERATURE EVER OBSERVED IN JANUARY AT NOME SINCE
RECORDS BEGAN IN 1906. THE PREVIOUS RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE FOR
THE MONTH OF JANUARY WAS 46 DEGREES SET ON JANUARY 7TH 1942. FOR
REFERENCE...48 DEGREES IS THE NORMAL HIGH TEMPERATURE IN LATE MAY
AT NOME. THE NORMAL HIGH FOR JANUARY 27TH IS 13 DEGREES ABOVE
ZERO. IT IS POSSIBLE THE RECORD COULD BE FURTHER BROKEN TODAY.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13607
Quoting 152. VAbeachhurricanes:


What?


So simple a "Pine Beetle" understands it...
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20417
Quoting 151. cyclonebuster:


With our demise so near we can't avoid this question you hear?

So whats the solution so we don't have to live with this for next 1000 years?


What?
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6670
Quoting 147. VAbeachhurricanes:


How should most of the world heat their homes then?


With our demise so near we can't avoid this question you hear?

So whats the solution so we don't have to live with this for next 1000 years?
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20417
Quoting 144. yoboi:


Is the Arctic????


Which is bigger? Which one has more effect on global climate?
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20417
148. yoboi
Quoting 147. VAbeachhurricanes:


How should most of the world heat their homes then?



Awhile back they had someone on this blog saying the greenest way to warm your home was invite has many people into your home and have them all exhale really really fast.....IDK if that will work......
Member Since: August 25, 2010 Posts: 7 Comments: 2402
Quoting 140. cyclonebuster:


Incorrect it takes 100 years for the new tree to grow and the the Co2 you created burning the tree takes over 1000 years to be purged from the atmosphere these days not including what went percentage went into the oceans.......


How should most of the world heat their homes then?
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6670
Quoting 142. ColoradoBob1:


Yes, lots of glacial flour coming into the ocean (the grey colors) , simulating the blue green phytoplankton bloom.

I'm not color blind.

Thanks. (You oughtta see me in the produce section!)
Member Since: October 30, 2005 Posts: 7 Comments: 5469
Quoting 125. ColoradoBob1:


Dr. Masters -
Record warmth and precipitation in Alaska
As of January 26, 13.83" of precipitation had fallen in Valdez during the month of January. This is more than 8" above average for this point in the month, and close to the all-time record for January precipitation of 15.18", set in 2001 (records go back to 1972.) With more rain on the way Monday and Tuesday, this record could easily fall. Numerous locations in Southeast Alaska have beaten their rainiest January day on record marks.


Link


Video of the avalanche near Valdez here:

Link

At ~1:45 in that video, the size of that avalanche (described as 'glacier-sized') becomes clear.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
144. yoboi
Quoting 131. cyclonebuster:



Isn't the United States regional?


Is the Arctic????
Member Since: August 25, 2010 Posts: 7 Comments: 2402

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About RickyRood

I'm a professor at U Michigan and lead a course on climate change problem solving. These articles often come from and contribute to the course.