Dr Jo Browse
Lecturer in Physical Geography

Research

Research interests

The Arctic is changing at an unprecedented rate due to rising CO2, with a sea-ice free summer Arctic ocean forecast by the middle of this century. Sea-ice retreat and Arctic warming will impact global climate and mid-latitude weather, devastate the Arctic ecosystem and threaten the health and cultural identity of Arctic indigenous peoples. However, multiple uncertainties remain in our forecasts of Arctic climate change. In part, driven by a poor representation of key Arctic climate components in global climate models, including cloud and aerosol.

Clouds form due to atmospheric particulates (or aerosol) which are emitted anthropogenically and naturally. Both cloud and aerosol cool the Earth by reflecting incoming sunlight, which in clouds can be heightened by increasing aerosol concentration and resulting cloud ‘brightening’ (the so-called ‘indirect’ effect). However, in the Arctic, interaction with the high albedo ice and snow surface and 24 hour daylight/night complicate this relationship. Additionally, Arctic cloud and aerosol are likely to change due to Arctic warming, resulting in a complex ‘coupled’ system that is not adequately represented in traditional atmospheric models.

My overarching research goal is to understand how different components of the Arctic climate system (ice, ocean, atmosphere, vegetation etc.) will change and interact to accelerate or mitigate Arctic warming through positive and negative ‘climate feedbacks’. I study the coupled climate system in the Arctic using complex models and an expanding network of Arctic real-world observations to quantify and constrain model uncertainty. In particular, I’m interested in the processes controlling the response of Arctic cloud to sea-ice retreat both directly (i.e. greater humidity) and indirectly (i.e. increasing pollutants from in-Arctic industry). My end game is to develop state-of-the-art earth system models to accurately forecast the evolving Arctic environment and impact of Arctic climate change on our weather, our health and our future.

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