The Physics of Changing Polar Climates

Speaker Name/Affiliation
Paul Kushner / University of Toronto
Location (Room)
JILA Auditorium
Event Details & Abstracts

Coffee, tea and cookies will be available in G1B31 (across from G1B20) from 3:30–3:50 p.m.


Abstract: The Arctic and Antarctic regions of Earth’s climate system have historically received less scientific attention than, and remain poorly observed and understood relative to, other regions of the world. Being critically sensitive to anthropogenic climate change, the polar regions are hotspots of rapid surface warming, cryospheric melt, and profound oceanic change. In this colloquium I’ll talk about the causes and consequences of this polar amplification (predominantly Arctic amplification) of global warming. I’ll discuss how coupled interactions between the atmosphere, ocean, and floating sea ice drive this amplification, and how Arctic change affects the atmosphere’s stratification, storminess, and overturning circulation, with global implications. Our work uses earth system models (developed right here in Boulder CO!) that seek to realistically capture the processes involved. We’ve recently learned that the way we use earth-system models to probe Arctic amplification could be misleading. I’ll discuss attempts to address this shortcoming and prospects for improved experiments. Finally, I’ll highlight plans for a 2025 program at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics where we’ll study polar amplification and other urgent issues around changing polar climates.


For a full list of recordings from the Fall 2023 Colloquium schedule, please visit: