Reto Knutti knows than physics isn’t enough

Reto Knutti. Photo credit: Valérie Chételat, used by permission of ETH Zurich.

Reto Knutti and I are both interested in cake. Reto, as an analogy for the problems society faces when trying to divide up the allowable carbon emissions among historically greedy and newly desirous consumers. Me, because I love cake (ok, it’s also a great analogy). Continue reading →

Valérie Masson-Delmotte and the jigsaw puzzle of climate science

For Valérie Masson-Delmotte, climate science is like a jigsaw puzzle. Unlike a house of cards, where the removal of one element causes the whole thing to crash down, the central picture of a puzzle is still apparent when pieces — maybe even many pieces — are missing. Continue reading →

The many careers of Piers Sellers

I first heard of Piers Sellers some time in the mid-1990s, on a trip to the southern BOREAS field site when I was in my master’s program at the University of Montana. The talk was something on the order of “… have you heard? Piers is entering the astronaut program!” which, at the time, came as a complete non-sequitur to me. Why would someone at the peak of an influential scientific career at NASA choose to walk away?

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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.

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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 →

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!)

Bette-Otto-Bliesner
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 →

Surabi Menon on aerosols and working in a climate foundation

If you’re a frequent reader of Nature’s Career section, you’ll have seen a lot of content on various aspects of non-traditional scientific careers (for example, conversations with Nobel Laureate Eric Betzig, a Q&A on transitioning from academia to industry, an editorial on life after academia, and a feature on why top academic prospects might pursue other opportunities). Continue reading →

Bjorn Stevens on the philosophy of climate modeling

In love with Maxwell

Bjorn Stevens has a lot going on: scientific member of the Max Planck Society, director of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, head of the department Atmosphere and the Earth System, professor at the University of Hamburg, lead author of an IPCC AR 5 Chapter 7, co-lead of a WCRP Grand Challenge on Clouds, Circulation and Climate Sensitivity. All of these roles don’t come as much of a surprise, once you get your head around the degree to which Bjorn manages to combine a deep scientific enthusiasm with big vision, an in-the-trenches grasp of details, a willingness to take risks, and an inspirational leadership style.

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