From Global Warming to Local Climate: Understanding Energetic and Dynamic Drivers

Prof. Yen-Ting Hwang from Department of Atmospheric Sciences, National Taiwan University

@ Chin-Pao Yang Lecture Hall ( Room 104 ), CCMS-New Phys. Building


Atmospheric and oceanic wave dynamics derived from momentum equations are the backbones of weather and climate predictions. They lie at the heart of several modes of natural variability, including El Niño and the Northern Annular Mode. Human-induced climate change, on the other hand, is ultimately driven by energy. Back in the 1960s, Syukuro Manabe, one of the winners of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2021, looked beyond regional weather predictions and applied the laws of thermodynamics to construct the very first quantitative (and reliable) prediction of global warming. Up until today, most reliable climate predictions — such as increasing temperature, moisture, sea level rise, and ice melting — are based on thermodynamics.
We have limited confidence in how atmospheric circulation (dynamics) and, thus, precipitation patterns will change in the future. Understanding and predicting changes in rainfall under human-induced climate change is the theme of my research and this talk. I will share two recent highlights: one on how anthropogenic aerosols (air pollution) affect the Walker Cell and the Pacific cold tongue, the home of El Niño; and one on how greenhouse gases (e.g., CO2) affect the South Asian Monsoon. Taiwan lies right in between these two atmospheric circulations.

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