Department of Atmospheric Sciences | University of Illinois
Atmospheric Sciences | RESEARCH


Global climate change affects not only the well-being of humans, but also the health of natural ecosystems, which are sensitive to changes in climate. An example of this is the Arctic, where dramatic warming over the last fifty years has led to fundamental changes in the distribution of vegetation and sea ice. These changes have a profound influence on the surface and tropospheric energy budgets in the Arctic, as well as in far-reaching locations through atmospheric teleconnections. In the Tropics, human-induced land cover change has led to a fragmented landscape as forests are converted to croplands and pastures. This deforestation leads to a redistribution of carbon, energy, and water budgets that induce mesoscale to synoptic scale changes in convective precipitation patterns with unexpected results. Other potential consequences involve changes to the atmospheric circulation in the Tropics leading to an extra-tropical response through large-scale atmospheric energy and moisture transport.

Students use ground-based and satellite observations along with regional and global climate models to evaluate the atmospheric and ecosystem response to global climate and land cover change. These highly complex models allow students to ask 'what-if' questions about how the atmosphere, as well as natural and managed ecosystems, may respond to a range of future climate and land cover scenarios. Are you interested in the consequences of future climate and land cover change on Earth's ecosystems and atmosphere? These problems will need to be addressed in the near future. Will you have the solutions?

Want to learn more? See these faculty websites:

Ryan Sriver Carl Bernacchi Atul Jain
Michael Schlesinger John Walsh