Monday, February 3, 2020 - 12:00pm
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Geo Museum 102, Haller Hall, 24 Oxford St., Cambridge

EPS Colloquium

Jenny Suckale, Stanford, will present "The Causes and Consequences of the Large Uncertainty in Near-term Sea-level Rise." 

Jenny Suckale is an Assistant Professor in Department of Geophysics at Stanford University. She is co-appointed at the Institute of Computational and Mathematical Engineering, the Department of Environmental Engineering, and the Woods Institute for the Environment. Before joining Stanford, she was a Lecturer in Applied Mathematics and a Ziff Environmental Fellow at Harvard. She holds a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School. The goal of her research is to understand the processes that govern extreme events in different natural systems and leverage this understanding to increase resilience. She pursues this goal by developing mathematical methods that are tested against observational data from a broad spectrum of scales. Applications include volcanic eruptions, ice-sheet instability, permafrost disintegration, coastal flooding, and induced earthquakes. She was recently awarded the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.

The Antarctic Ice Sheet exhibits astonishing spatial and temporal variability in ice flow rate and associated mass loss. Rapid ice flow is concentrated in narrow corridors called ice streams that together with outlet glaciers account for the majority of the current mass loss from the ice-sheet interior to the ocean. The response of the ice streams to climatically induced perturbations is hence highly consequential for future projections of sea level, but our understanding of the physical processes governing ice-stream dynamics is limited. This limitation is particularly concerning in light of observations indicating that in the past, the position, width, and flow speed of ice streams have varied notably on decadal to centennial time-scales. In this talk, I will present a sequence of mathematical models that shed light on the physical processes that control potential adjustments of ice streams in the near future. Our analysis suggests that existing data and models are too incomplete to reliably assess ice loss from the two ice sheets under changing climatic conditions. However, I argue that the uncertainty itself is a valuable scientific contribution for informing climate adaptation planning and briefly lay out an avenue for making progress on science-based, equitable adaptation in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Contact Name: 

Katrina Blanch

Research Areas: 

Harvard University
Center for the Environment

Address: 26 Oxford Street, 4th Floor, Cambridge
Phone: (617) 495-0368

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