Oceans cover about seventy percent of the Earth surface and so sea-air interactions play a key role in the atmospheric system. In particular, oceans are a reservoir of sea spray aerosols—the most widely distributed natural aerosols
Climatologists consider the role of clouds together with aerosols to be the largest single uncertainty in climate prediction. In fact, the United National Intergovernmental Panel on climate change, charged with evaluating climate change science, has made it a top priority.
“Overall, clouds cool the Earth’s surface by shading about sixty percent of the planet at any one time and by increasing the reflectivity of the atmosphere,” said Andrew Jensen, assistant professor of mathematics. “Given that, just a five percent increase or decrease in cloud reflectivity could have a huge impact.”
In 2017, Jensen was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to research climate change, aerosols, and clouds in France at the Atmospheric Optics Laboratory at the University of Lille in Villeneuve d’Ascq.
There, he worked for a semester with Professor O. Pujal at the University of Lille and together they have produced two papers about their findings:
- Mallet, P.E., Pujol, O., Brioude, J., Evan, S. and Jensen, A., 2018. Marine aerosol distribution and variability over the pristine Southern Indian Ocean. Atmospheric Environment,182, pp.17-30
- Pujol, O, Jensen, A., 2019. Cloud-rain predator-prey interactions: analyzing some properties of the Koren-Feingold model and introduction of a new species-competition bulk system with a Hopf bifurcation. To appear in Physica D.
Jensen and Pujal are focused on understanding cloud organization in pristine climates like the Southern Indian Ocean.
“By studying pristine climates, we hope to get an approximate understanding of the climate undisturbed by climate change,” he said. “We’re also developing a model of cloud organization in the Southern Indian Ocean which has striking similarities to the way that certain materials become magnetized.”
Jensen says there is so much yet to be learned and he and Pujol are fleshing out ideas for more collaboration. “France was just the beginning,” he said.