The Physics of Climate Change & Utah’s Future

Wednesday, December 4, 2019
1:30 PM - 2:20 PM
TY - 102
Event Type
John Sohl

Physics Seminar presented by Court Strong, Associate Professor, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Utah.
We explore how the study of climate is largely applied physics, drawing on fundamentals like energy and mass conservation, thermodynamics, and fluid dynamics. We then take a physics-based approach to answering three key questions: is climate change real, is it caused by humans, and how will Utah’s future differ from today?

To answer these questions, our main tools are observations and climate models which encode the governing physical equations in a numerical form that can be run on supercomputers.  Modeling climate enables us to understand historical observed changes and to make projections of future changes under various future greenhouse gas emission scenarios.

Global climate models are too coarse in spatial resolution to reliably resolve processes in mountainous terrain, so we run high-resolution regional climate models over an area of interest using output from the coarse model as boundary conditions.  Results from our high-resolution climate modeling over Utah are presented, highlighting future changes in mountain snowpack out to the year 2100.

(Pictured:  Sundial Peak)

Utah-Climate change

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