Lixin Wu and the rising tide of Chinese oceanography

I met Lixin Wu when I was at the Ocean University of China in Qingdao for a writing workshop (now called Nature Masterclasses). Several things impressed me about Lixin right away. First, he’s a lot of fun to be around and equally at ease in formal situations and banquets. Then, he’s clearly an inspiration to his staff and colleagues. Finally, he has big visions for his own science, the OUC, and Chinese marine science in general.

Continue reading →

Three decades of ice core science with Dorthe Dahl-Jensen

Dorthe Dahl-Jensen is one of the leaders of the second generation of Danish ice core scientists, following on from pioneers like Willy Dansgaard and Sigfus Johnsen. She’s began publishing in Nature and Science since 1993, and now has 16 papers between the two. Her career spans technical details, modeling, age models, abrupt change, isotopic interpretation … nearly any topic you can imagine about the Greenland ice cores.

Continue reading →

Into the deep ocean with Lorraine Lisiecki

Lorraine Lisiecki is in the business of understanding past variations in ocean circulation. In particular, she uses mathematical approaches to interpret observed variations in δ18O and δ13C on times scales of thousands to millions of years.

Continue reading →

Yusuke Yokoyama narrowly misses career in baseball, settles for stellar career in science

Nearly everyone I’ve interviewed so far has a healthy dose of “what if” in their background. But maybe no one more so than Yusuke Yokoyama, a star paleoclimatologist – geochemist – engineer – inventor at the University of Tokyo.

Continue reading →

Amy Clement questions the core ideas of climate dynamics

Essentially from the start of her career, Amy Clement has been interested in the big ideas in atmospheric dynamics. But she’s also continually raised questions and proposed her own sometimes controversial ideas.

Amy Clement
Credit: UM Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science

El Niño is fundamentally linked to atmosphere-ocean interactions? Maybe not. The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation drives the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation? Again, maybe not. Continue reading →

Stefan Kröpelin and 45 years of exploration and science in the eastern Sahara

Interesting stories and insights on life come tumbling out of Stefan Kröpelin — one of the foremost scientists working in the eastern Sahara — like snowflakes in a blizzard. Science is at the forefront of our conversation, but his worldview is literary: “It was never my intention to make, out of 100 books, the 101st.” Always, Stefan looks for the empty space and fresh opportunity, on the map and in science.

Stefan Kropelin at Lake Bokou, Chad. Credit: Stefan Kropelin.
Stefan at Lake Bokou — part of the Lakes of Ounianga UNESCO World Heritage Site, northern Chad. Credit: Stefan Kröpelin.

Continue reading →

Lauren Andrews on glacial hydrology and field work in Greenland

Lauren Andrews has done some of the most interesting work I’ve seen on subglacial hydrology — as a grad student, and with a degree of independence that would be unusual in most any PhD.

Credit: Joseph MacGregor
Credit: Joseph MacGregor

Lauren grew up in a scientific/agricultural household: her father was a groundwater hydrologist but the family also ran a small farm, with a range of animals. Lauren was active in 4-H, an organization that promotes (among other things) individual responsibility and organization, skills that came into play during Lauren’s time on the Greenland Ice Sheet.

Continue reading →

Gavin Schmidt on the evolution, testing and discussion of climate models

gavin schmidt nasa giss
Credit: Bruce Gilbert

Gavin Schmidt runs the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and develops, pokes, prods, tears down, builds up, and talks about talking about climate models. He also considered opening a child care center at GISS, but thought better of it. Continue reading →

Bette Otto-Bliesner and modeling past climates (most of them!)

Credit: UCAR, used by permission.

Bette Otto-Bliesner from the National Center for Atmospheric Research has shaped the field of paleoclimate modeling for decades and I’d been keen to talk with her ever since I started the podcast.

My process for inviting people to be on the podcast isn’t totally random. Usually I find the person’s work to be particularly compelling,  we might be in the same location, or I’m trying to find a good balance of tropics. Continue reading →

Greg Jones on inventing the field of wine-climate interactions

Greg Jones is one of the foremost authorities on wine – climate interactions. I started hearing about  Greg some time in the late 1990s, when Rama Nemani, one of my friends from the University of Montana, went out to NASA Ames for a year. Rama got interested in remote sensing of vineyards and then climate-wine interactions. Somehow we all started talking, and a few years later this led to a paper in Climate Research. Greg and I continued to work together off and on for years, including a feature in Nature Geoscience soon after I started at Nature. Continue reading →