Looking at the environment as a puzzle with many pieces

Earth's climate changes as the amount of energy stored in the global climate system changes.

When something upsets the balance between energy coming in from the Sun and heat leaving th Earth—that's when the biggest changes happen.

A number of things can upset the balance. Most recently, it has been pollution caused by human activity and through emissions of greenhouse gases. Thus the term "climate forcing mechanisms."

By changing Earth's energy balance, such mechanisms "force" the climate to change.

Scientists in the U-M department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences (AOSS) view the entire Sun-Earth system from an interdisciplinary perspective. The AOSS Climate Change Team is learning about the many influences on global climate so that they can view the complete puzzle, not just the pieces. Here are a few of the scientists, and their research.


Natasha Andronova
Natasha Andronova

Natasha Andronova

Conducts research on global and regional climate change and its effects on the Earth’s    biosphere

Studies the response of the climate/chemistry system to different radiative forcings of both natural   and human origin

Analyzes the interactions between climate and the chemical composition of the atmosphere

Helps to determine the sensitivity of the climate system




androva image 2The two photographs to the right show what has happened to Muir and Riggs Glaciers in Alaska since 1941. As global temperatures have risen, glaciers have been melting at an increased rate. Professor Andronova's research is helping us learn more about the climate system, so we can curtail rapid ecological changes, like the ones shown here.

Professor Andronova’s research is centered on the ecology of climate forcing — the analysis of wetlands and the global methane cycle. Her research helps to determine the sensitivity and feedbacks of the climate system and its response to different natural (drought, flooding, weather, etc.) and anthropogenic (gas emissions, deforestation, disappearing wetlands) radiative forcings. Andronova is also researching the different ways that climate change and human health are interrelated.

Mary Anne Carroll

Natasha Andronova
Mary Anne Carroll

Studies how the interaction of northern latitude forests and the atmosphere influence air   quality and climate

Helps to determine the causes and consequences of biosphere-atmosphere    interactions

Analyzes the impact of air pollutants on ecosystem processes and biogenic emissions

Develops instruments and applications for measuring natural and anthropogenic   contributions in atmosphere-biosphere interactions

The photograph at right shows the PROPHET Tower at the U-M Biological Station. Professor Carroll uses this tower to study how the atmosphere’s ability to cleanse itself of pollutants is impacted by both human and natural emissions.

The Program for Research on Oxidants: PHotochemistry, Emissions, and Transport is a research effort aimed at investigating the relationship between atmospheric odd nitrogen, ozone, and forest-atmosphere interactions.


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