State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

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Atmospheric Scientists Win Early Career Awards

Tiffany Shaw

Two scientists at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory have been recognized for early-career achievement in the atmospheric sciences by the American Geophysical Union (AGU), the world’s largest earth-sciences organization. Tiffany Shaw, 31, is a physicist who uses computer models and mathematical equations to study the basic dynamics of the atmosphere and climate, for instance, how the jet stream and weather patterns will respond to rising carbon dioxide levels and the ozone hole above Antarctica. Arlene Fiore, 36, is an atmospheric chemist studying the interplay between climate change and air pollution levels.

An early aptitude for math and flying planes got Shaw thinking about storms and the processes driving weather. (She is the third generation in her family to hold a pilot’s license.) The abstract equations she uses in her research can be off-putting to some people, she says, but math is more tangible and fun than you might think. “It’s such a powerful language” she says.

Shaw came to Lamont-Doherty last fall from New York University and has joint appointments with Columbia’s Earth & Environmental Sciences and Applied Physics & Applied Mathematics departments. Her award, the James R. Holton Junior Scientist Award, comes with a $1,000 prize and will be presented at AGU’s annual meeting in December.

Fiore is a lead author for the upcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s fifth assessment report. She arrives at Lamont-Doherty this fall, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, NJ. She is currently looking at how regional air pollutants interact with global atmospheric chemistry and climate. Her research has focused on ground level ozone pollution and the effects of methane emissions on air quality and climate, and how reduced methane emissions may provide economic and health benefits. She will be presented in December with the James B. Macelwane Medal; she previously also won the Holton Junior Scientist Award, in 2005.

Banner featuring a collage of extreme heat images.

Recent record-breaking heat waves have affected communities across the world. The Extreme Heat Workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to advance the state of knowledge, identify community needs, and develop a framework for evaluating risks with a focus on climate justice. Register by June 15

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