My research group focuses on the dynamics of the climate system, with a specific emphasis on understanding the fundamental mechanisms that are involved in changes in climate. Climate models are powerful tools for learning about such mechanisms, as they enable us to test hypotheses about climate system behavior by performing controlled experiments. A substantial part of our research involves the simulation of past climates, such as the climate of the last ice age or the response of climate to changes in the earth’s orbit. The value in studying past climates derives from the large changes in climate that have taken place over geologic time, which provide a framework for developing a better understanding of the key feedbacks and processes that determine how the climate system responds to external forcing.
In recent deacdes, human-induced climate change has grown in importance and is expected to be the dominant driver of climate change in the next century. Thus we are also interested in understanding the mechanisms that will govern the response of the climate system to anthropogenic forcing. Such work is complementary to our research on past climates, for it is likely that similar mechanisms are involved. An important point is that our goal is not to simply project future changes in climate, but also to understand the mechanisms by which such changes are expected to occur.