NSF Grant Funds Research on Important Climate System
Tripti Bhattacharya, Thonis Family Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, has been awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation for her project, “Sensitivity of Walker circulation to CO2 forcing during the late Pliocene as an analogue for future climate change: Collaborative research.”
Bhattacharya will explore the circulation of the Pacific Walker cell, a climate circulation along the equator that influences weather conditions in many parts of the world. According to Bhattacharya, the Pacific Walker affects drought as far away as India, and plays a role in the path of the jet stream over North America.
There is currently no clear consensus on how the Walker circulation responds to climate change and researchers have long debated how the Walker circulation changed in past climates. Bhattacharya is part of a team that will reconstruct how the Pacific Walker responded to a past ‘greenhouse’ climate interval called the mid-Pliocene, approximately 3-3.3 million years ago.
By understanding how the Pacific Walker responded to warm climates in the past, researchers hope to better predict how it will affect future climate given the current global warming trends.