People of IARC
What might people find interesting about your current projects?
Right now, I’m working to expand my study defining the climatic regions of Alaska. In conjunction with the National Weather Service, I had previously completed a profile of the state’s climate divisions based on weather station data from 1977 to the present.
This type of project is particularly useful to scientific communities and the government because it can improve our sense of long-term climate trends and further standardize the metrics by which official studies and resources are administered.
As a result, federal agencies such as the National Climate Data Center and the Climate Prediction Center have an interest in the further development of the project.
Throughout this process, we have already reached some very important validations regarding our climate, as well as some revelations. Using downscale techniques (to add more precision and detail to existing large-scale observations), we can now locate more specifically where one Alaskan climate zone ends and another begins.
Consequently we have found, for example, that the climatic conditions of the “Interior,” as many of us understand them, are divided into three divisions, one of which extends further south than previously assumed. Southeast Alaska also has many more distinct climate zones than had previously been identified.
Now we are building on these regional definitions, using a larger dataset, to construct historical time series for each regional division going back to 1920. We hope to learn more about long-term climate trends in different regions of Alaska.
Have you always been interested in studying the climate?
From a young age, I was interested in the weather (and Alaska, for that matter), but it wasn’t until more recently in my formal education that these interests cohered into a study of the climate here. When I was growing up in Michigan, I was very taken by the region’s active weather systems, including thunderstorms and a dramatic tornado I remember very clearly as a child.
It was only upon a formative internship with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, however, that I began to favor the longer-term and more comprehensive study of climate.
Do you have pursuits or interests outside of climatology?
A lot of my interests derive from my work. I’ve developed a particular fondness for teaching—I’ve very much appreciated the opportunities I’ve had to lead a classroom. I also have a great deal of interest in the work that I and other climatologists can do to improve our modeling and predictive tools.
Beyond that, I have always had an affinity for music, and I continue to enjoy playing the organ as often as I can find time. I also enjoy going for walks around campus in the evening.