Climate science and climate risks

Kerry Emanuel


Friday, April 8, 2016


PSFC Seminars

Abstract: In this talk, I will provide a broad overview of climate science, including the history of the science itself, and what we have learned about the Earth’s climate system through analysis of paleoclimate data, the instrumental record, and, most importantly, the fundamental physics, chemistry, and biology underlying the climate system. Projections of future climates, made using both simple and complex models, will be discussed, with an emphasis on sources of uncertainty together with an assessment of whether and to what extent the level of uncertainty can be reduced. Toward the end of the talk, the problem of global warming will be framed as a problem of risk assessment and management, including the difficulties in dealing with fat-tailed risk probabilities, and various technical and policy options for dealing with climate change will be described.

Bio: Dr. Kerry Emanuel is the Cecil and Ida Green professor of atmospheric science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he has been on the faculty since 1981, after spending three years on the faculty of UCLA. Professor Emanuel's research interests focus on tropical meteorology and climate, with a specialty in hurricane physics. His interests also include cumulus convection, and advanced methods of sampling the atmosphere in aid of numerical weather prediction. He is the author or co-author of over 200 peer-reviewed scientific papers, and three books, including Divine Wind: The History and Science of Hurricanes, published by Oxford University Press and aimed at a general audience, and What We Know about Climate Change, published by the MIT Press. He is a co-director of MIT’s Lorenz Center, a climate think tank devoted to basic, curiosity-driven climate research.