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Founded within the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences in 1986, the Earth System Science Center (ESSC) maintains a mission to describe, model, and understand the Earth's climate system. ESSC is one of seven centers supported by the Earth & Environmental Systems Institute.

The climate can be viewed as a complex interacting set of components including the oceans, atmosphere, cryosphere, and biosphere. Within the ESSC, we are engaged in studies that aim to understand both these individual components, and the interactions between them.

Our approach involves:

 

Highlights...

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Human-caused warming likely led to recent streak of record-breaking temperatures
ESSC Director Dr. Michael Mann and others have published a paper in Geophysical Research Letters stating that it is "extremely unlikely" that 2014, 2015, and 2016 would not have been the warmest consecutive years on record without anthropogenic climate change.
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Allowable 'carbon budget' most likely overestimated
A recent article published in Nature Climate Change examines the definition of the "pre-industrial" baseline used for climate change discussions and projections. The group, including ESSC director Dr. Michael Mann, posits that the actual "pre-industrial" era is much earlier than the one used by the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC). Changing the baseline could have an impact on targets used in agreements like the Paris Climate Accords.
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The 2017 North Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecast
ESSC director Dr. Michael Mann, alumnus Dr. Michael Kozar, and researcher Sonya K. Miller have released their predictions for the 2017 North Atlantic Hurricane season. They are calling for between 11 and 20 storms with a best estimate of 15 named storms.
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Figure showing difference in normal and extreme jet streamExtreme weather events linked to climate change impact on the jet stream
ESSC Director Dr. Michael Mann and others have published a study in Nature Scientific Reports looking at increasing frequency of extreme weather events and the connection to climate change through changes in the jet stream. Through a combination of observations and model output, researchers were able to identify specific events that were linked to stationary peaks in the waves of the jet stream.
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Global climate models do not easily downscale for regional predictions
Dr. Fuqing Zhang and Dr. Michael Mann recently published a study in Advances in Atmospheric Sciences looking at the uncertainty of global model projections becomes very high as you zoom in on specific regions or locations. Climate models continue to be useful for global or large-scale projections, and further research may better inform regional or local projections.
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Bees' ability to forage decreases as air pollution increases
Dr. Jose Fuentes and others looked at the interactions between air pollution and chemistry and how it affects the ability for bees to find and identify food.
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