Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences

David Schneider

CIRES Research Scientist III

Headshot of David Schneider
  • Ph.D., Earth and Space Sciences and Program on Climate Change, University of Washington
  • M.S., Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Pennsylvania
  • B.A., Geology, Carleton College

Research Interests

My research integrates observations, paleoclimate records, and climate model experiments of past and present climate to make informed predictions of future climate impacts. In addition to the science itself, I prioritize communication and mentoring to make sure that such predictions are relevant and useful for creating a more just, informed and resilient society.

I have long been interested in the climate dynamics of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean region, and the role of this region in the global climate system. It is a fascinating and mysterious region, which could wind up being recognized as (or more) important for climate than better-observed and better-understood regions like the North Atlantic and Tropical Pacific. We already know that it is of primary importance in heat and carbon uptake, sea level, and climate sensitivity. What’s next? Perhaps Earth System Predictability. Perhaps a lifesaving climate solution. I am interested in studying the Arctic as well, and in understanding the physical mechanisms connecting both polar regions with the tropics and mid-latitudes.

To ensure that the science I contribute to benefits society, I wil continue doing what I can to demystify climate data from observations and climate models. Such data are incredibly valuable for research, planning, and adaptation, yet are confusing to sort out and make sense of.  In addition to technological progress and open data, we need a transparent and open discussion of the strengths, limitations, and appropriate usage contexts of the data.

I maintain a visiting scientist appointment at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), where I am engaged in the analysis and evaluation of climate models.

If any of my interests align with yours, and you have an idea for a collaborative research proposal, please get in touch.

Current Research

I have leadership roles in these projects:

  • Uncertainty and Mechanisms of Antarctica's Changing Snowfall and its Role in Sea Level Change (UMACS), funded by NSF. This top-ranked funded proposal has supported myself, a SOARS protégé (twice), a postdoc, two graduate students, and the former PI (now leading climate analytics at McKinsey). The team has published papers on the performance of CESM2 in Antarctica, the performance of CESM2 with a high-resolution grid in Antarctica, and atmospheric rivers in Antarctica, with more to come.
  • Assessing the Causal Influence of Atmospheric Opacity and Sea Ice on Arctic Warming in a Novel Circulation-controlled Framework, funded by NSF.
  • The Climate Data Guide, which is exploring new directions and seeking new partners. Representing decades' worth of accumulated climate data expertise, the website reaches an ever-growing audience of millions in the global south and global north, helping to broaden access to essential climate data and knowledge networks.

I have been a lead research mentor in SOARS and have successfully raised funds for this program. I enjoy working with postdocs in programs like CIRES Visiting Fellows and NOAA Climate and Global Change Fellows.


Selected media coverage:

Science: Drilling on the edge (New West Antarctic ice cores to shed light on Antarctica's role in sea level rise, and the region's remote influence on the tropics)

Vox: It’s even hot in Antarctica, where it’s winter

NCAR News: New Help for navigating climate data

NBC News: Comprehensive study of West Antarctic Ice Sheet finds collapse may be unavoidable (I do not 100% agree with the headline. Words like “unavoidable” and “inevitable” do not fit the data and should not be used in my professional opinion. Emissions cuts would matter for the future of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet; we do not yet know on what timescale. The most relevant questions are, "How much?" and "How fast?" I post my take on this and other papers on LinkedIn.)

Yale Climate Connections: How this month produced a mind-boggling warm-up in eastern Antarctica (and the Arctic)

Weather Underground: Antarctic sea ice dips to record-low extent for January

AAAS: Antarctic climate: Short-term spikes, long-term warming linked to tropical Pacific

CNN: Warmest Arctic temperatures for 2000 years, says new study

ScienceDaily: Climate models overheat Antarctica, new study finds


Datasets most closely related to my work:

Data from cloud-modified CESM1, used in Schneider, Kay, & Hannay 2022.

List of various climate variability and change experiments with CESM1 and CESM2, most of which I have used in my research.

Antarctic ice core data from Schneider et al., 2006, now part of compilations like PAGES2K.

Antarctic station data, which are still inconsistently incorporated into global temperature datasets.

Research Categories

Atmosphere, Climate and Weather, Cryosphere, Oceans

Research Images

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About CECA

CECA connects and creates a supportive environment for graduate students and postdocs who come from various academic units to do research in CIRES.