Climate Change Working Group

ESI’s Climate Change Working Group brings together researchers from across UT and the greater scientific community to investigate the nature, causes, extent, and ramifications of global climate change through a variety of overlapping areas of focus:

Climate History: Climate history studies look at physical evidence for information about past climate. ESI members are looking for evidence of historical climate in a diverse array of physical phenomena including chemical isotopes in coral reefs and cave formations, changes in fossil communities and sedimentary formations in ancient deserts.

Climate Modeling: Predicting future climate change is a complex process of integrating the results of research on climate processes and historical climate into a large modeling framework. Creating global and regional climate models requires the collaboration of a large group of researchers with a combined knowledge of a wide variety of physical and biological processes. ESI members are developing and using these models to help predict climate scenarios for Texas and the world.

Climate Change Impacts:  Changes in global climate have the potential to significantly alter the physical and biological environment in ways that can impact both human society and global and regional ecosystems. ESI members are involved in research that examines evidence for impacts of climate change that has already occurred as well as research that attempts to predict impacts of future climate change.

Climate Process:  In order to understand how human society may be influencing global climate, we must understand the physical and biological mechanisms that influence climate on regional to global scales. ESI members are studying climate mechanisms that range from plant physiology to plate tectonics to deforestation.

Climate Change Remediation:  The question of how to deal with human-induced climate change usually revolves around the idea of cutting emissions of anthropogenic greenhouse gases. Another promising approach involves the creation of new technologies to help remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. ESI members are exploring a variety of novel methods for reducing the impact of rising greenhouse gases in ways that are both scientifically sound and economically feasible.

Climate Change Working Group Members

  • Jamie Austin (Senior Research Scientist) – marine cores collected by the ODP and data from seismic surveys to decipher the record of sea-level fluctuations on time scales greater than 100,000 years).
  • Jay Banner (Professor and Dave P. Carlton Centennial Fellow in Geology) – interactions between the atmosphere-land-ocean systems are preserved in the geologic record).
  • Christopher Bell (Professor and John A. Wilson Fellow in Vertebrate Paleontology) – dynamics of vertebrate faunal communities during the Quaternary Period, concentrating on two terrestrial vertebrate groups, squamate reptiles and small mammals).
  • Donald Blankenship (Senior Research Scientist) – the WAISCORES Project to select a site for an ice core to be drilled from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.
  • Kenneth H. Dunton (Professor, Department of Marine Sciences) – physiological ecology, in situ productivity, and trophic relations in estuarine marsh, seagrass and algal communities; photosynthetic performance and UV effects on arctic and antarctic macroalgae.
  • Craig Fulthorpe (Senior Research Scientists) – marine cores collected by the ODP and data from seismic surveys to decipher the record of sea-level fluctuations on time scales greater than 100,000 years.
  • Susan Hovorka (Senior Research Scientist) – the application of geological techniques to environmental problems, particularly focusing on the issue of permeability in both tight and very transmissive systems.
  • Charles Jackson (Research Associate) – distilling lessons from the history of climate for the purpose of advancing ur understanding of the physics of the atmosphere, ocean, and cryosphere and their coupling.
  • Gregory W. Knapp (Professor, Department of Geography and the Environment) – adaptive dynamics, modeling changes in human-environment relations as related to the microscale patterning of soil and water in mountain and desert environments.
  • Gary Kocurek (Professor, Geological Sciences) – desert landforms and their representation in the ancient rock record, with focus on how sand seas respond to changes in climate, sea level and tectonism. Teaching centers on the basic principles that govern processes that operate on the land surfaces of the Earth.
  • Larry Lawver (Senior Research Scientist) – climate over very long time scales, especially in how the global configuration of tectonic plates affects global meteorology, ocean circulation, and tectonic processes over periods of tens to hundreds of millions of years.
  • Steven Moore (Bartlett Cocke Regents Professor in Architecture and Director of the Graduate Program in Sustainable Design) – teaching and design of courses related to the philosophy, history, and application of environmental technology.
  • Hilary Olson (Research Science Associate) – marine cores collected by the ODP and data from seismic surveys to decipher the record of sea-level fluctuations on time scales greater than 100,000 years.
  • Jeffrey Paine (Research Scientist) – environmental geophysics, climate change, coastal studies. Recent studies: Geophysical investigations of salinization; environmental applications of shallow seismic techniques; airborne electromagnetic investigations Lower Rio Grande Valley.
  • Camille Parmesan (Associate Professor, Section of Integrative Biology) – biotic responses to global warming; foraging behavior and evolution of diet in butterflies.
  • Tim Rowe (Professor in Geological Sciences and Director of the Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory) – VPL collections include 250,000 cataloged specimens. About 60% are vertebrate fossils that include among the most sensitive biological indicators of climate and environment.
  • Bridget Scanlon (Senior Research Scientist) – soil physics, environmental and applied tracers, and numerical modeling to explain flow and transport in unsaturated systems.
  • Robert B. Scott (Research Scientists) – large scale ocean dynamics and climate dynamics, aspects of two-dimensional turbulence present in the real ocean, interannual and longer timescale climate variability, data analysis tools to to reveal mechanisms of variability.
  • Fred Taylor (Senior Research Scientist) – live corals and drill cores of coral limestones from various sites in the South Pacific. One research focus is to evaluate frequency and intensity of past El Nino events, determined by evaluating annual growth bands, often in collaboration with geochemists who evaluate sea-surface temperature and other environmental parameters using isotopic methods.
  • Edward C. Theriot (Professor in the Section of Integrative Biology and Director of the Texas Memorial Museum) – aquatic biology with an emphasis on systematics and ecology of diatoms, especially diatom evolution in the context of environmental change.
  • Liang Yang (Professor in Geological Sciences) – global change, climate modeling, land-surface modeling, snow hydrology, runoff, North American monsoon; tropical Deforestation; Interaction of Terrestrial and Atmospheric Hydrological Processes; Flood and Drought; Remote Sensing.
  • Kenneth R. Young (Professor and Chair, Department of Geography and the Environment) – conservation, ecological restoration issues, and ecosystem management, and have skills in landscape assessment and analysis using GIS and quantitative methods. He will teach courses and seminars in landscape ecology, international conservation, and field methods.