Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences

Robert Pincus

Research Interests

What can the past tell us about the future? Much of my work is oriented around understanding what the historical record can tell us about climate change, and especially how changes in the composition of the atmosphere affect the flows of energy within the earth system -- the so-called "radiative forcing." 

On shorter time scales I work on a range of problems related to clouds, radiation, circulation, and climate. One practical thread is related to the nuts-and-bolts of building models. Radiation is the ultimate driver for every atmospheric motion, every model of the atmosphere needs an accruate representation. I'm especially interested in identify a range of strategies for balancing accruacy and computational cost based on the scales at which radaition couples to circulation. 

I have a long-standing interest in interpreting remote-sensing measurements. Still inspired by one of my first mentors, I'm especially interested in what we can learn from different views of the same aspect of the world. 

As a side interest I'm interested in how to use collections of simulations made by a variety of models, as is common in the climate community. 

Current Research

I'm the editor in chief of Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems (JAMES), an open-access journal devoted to modeling published by the American Geophysical Union. Send me your interesting manuscripts on modeling of all kinds.

With collaborators at AER I am refining a new radiation parameterization that seeks to balance accuracy, computational cost, and flexibility. With colleagues at CIRES we are incorporating this work into NOAA's next generation weather models. 

RFMIP, the Radiative Forcing Model Intercomparison Project associated with CMIP6, is an effort to understand radiative forcing in climate models by identifying errors in clear-sky forcing, carefully diagnosing model-specific effective radiative forcing, and bounding historical forcing by aerosols.

With Masa Kagayama I lead the initiative on Leveraging the Past Record of the WCRP Grand Challenge on Clouds, Circulation, and Climate Sensitivity. The grand challenge seeks to motivate the observational, theoretical, and modeling communities to make progress on a few key questions with special relevance to our understanding of future climate change.