Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder

Ulla Heede

Ulla will work with Kris Karnauskas and Ben Livneh on understanding climate impacts from large scale changes in ocean and atmospheric circulation with particular focus on changes in the tropical Pacific and climate impacts in the Americas. Recent observations have revealed a multi-decadal strengthening of the Walker circulation in the tropical Pacific, yet climate models robustly predict a weakening of the Walker cell emerging in the 21st century. How such a potential future reversal of the Walker cell trend will impact society through changes to regional hydrology, fire susceptibility, and extreme events is, however, largely unknown, which poses a big challenge for adaptation and mitigation strategies. Through a hierarchy of modelling experiments, this project aims to address this knowledge gap by developing a framework which traces the effect of large-scale circulation changes on societally relevant climate impacts. An additional component of the project, in collaboration with Anne Gold, is to present outcomes of this research in education and outreach in communities affected by climate change impacts across Colorado.