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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:



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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.
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.
Read the paper >>
Watch an explanation video by a co-author >>
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.
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.
Scientists: Ocean warming has doubled in recent decades
A new study in the journal Nature Climate Change reports that ocean temperatures have increased as much in the last two decades as they had in the last 150 years. ESSC scientist Dr. Chris Forest and others worked on this study.
Simulation of the Antarctic ice sheet under a warm climate.  Image credit: Dr. David PollardAntarctica’s next top numerical model
Penn State News profiles ESSC Scientist Dr. David Pollard. Dr. Pollard uses numerical modeling to understand the Antarctic ice sheet and the impacts of changes in the ice sheet on sea level rise over the three million years. His work was recognized earlier in 2015 with a Paul F. Robertson Award for EMS Breakthrough of the Year.