The main function of our Environmental Policy Department is producing research of a high international standard that can significantly contribute in predicting and responding to society’s climate challenges. In doing so we constantly strive to understand the continuous evolution of the system earth as well as the awareness of the consequences of human behavior on the quality of life on our planet.
More specifically, our efforts focus on incorporating both theory and direct observations of the past and present the results of those efforts in such a way that we make sense of the complexities of Earth’s climate and project climate changes into the future.
A model, in the traditional sense of the word, is a small-scale representation of a larger structure or system. By making a smaller working version of something otherwise unmanageable in size, we are able to understand it better– we can examine its parts, dissect its inner workings, see how it responds to change.
Unlike weather, which takes place in a matter of days, climate unfolds over decades; testing a climate model, therefore, is no simple task. Because it is impractical to wait thirty or fifty years to verify a model’s accuracy, models are usually tested by their ability to recreate past climates. Models that produce results similar to what actually happened are considered to be relatively trustworthy. A problem becomes evident when a model’s results differ from the past, beyond the range of natural variability. Yet, because of a model’s complexity, however, it is not always simple to tell what went wrong.
The most important components of our models are the atmosphere (including air temperature, moisture and precipitation levels, and storms); the oceans (measurements such as ocean temperature, salinity levels, and circulation patterns); terrestrial processes (including carbon absorption, forests, and storage of soil moisture); and the cryosphere (both sea ice and glaciers on land).
Our project-based work aims at:
Investigating the impact of climate change on air pollution gases and particles, water quality and ecosystem
Understanding the underlying factors contributing to changes in air pollution and water quality
Using modeling tools to better understand the impacts of extreme events on air and water quality as well as provide better modeling tools to predict air, water and ecosystem characteristics under a changing climate.
Exploring the physical, social and policy aspects of climate change and on broader environmental policy and governance.