The Tropics Rule: A Symposium honoring Mark Cane's contribution to Climate Science

Lead PI: Dr. Richard Seager

Unit Affiliation: Ocean and Climate Physics, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO)

June 2014 - December 2015
Project Type: Research Outreach

DESCRIPTION: Professor Mark Cane has been a leader in the field of climate dynamics for over three decades, and his research has led to fundamental advances in our understanding of the climate system. His research spans the fields of tropical ocean dynamics and ocean-atmosphere interactions, seasonal forecasting, applications of climate science to society, data analysis techniques, and paleoclimate dynamics. He was a developer of the first self-consistent dynamical model of the El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon, which was used to produce the first successful forecast of an El Nino event from a dynamical model (the 1986/87 event, which was predicted a year and a half in advance). This work paved the way for routine predictions of ENSO and the development of operational seasonal-to-interannual predictions of global climate variability. He has also led the way in the application of climate information for the betterment of society. More generally, his work has lead to broad recognition of the key role played by the tropics in climate variability, climate change, and the evolution of past climates. Much of the recent work on tropical paleoclimate and its global implications can be directly traced back to Professor Cane's pioneering efforts. This two-day symposium consists of a series of invited presentations highlighting key advances made during the past few decades in understanding the role of the tropics in the climate system, as well as outstanding problems in the field. The symposium will focus on two main areas: ENSO dynamics and societal applications of ENSO prediction; and tropical climate change from the distant past to the future. Presentations are intended to provide a broad and up-to-date perspective on each topic, and provide context for panel discussions that will focus on key questions and strategies for future progress. The underlying theme of the symposium is the extent to which the tropics play a dominant role in variations of global climate on all timescales, from year-to-year fluctuations to paleoclimate evolution to future climate change. Funds provided through this grant will be used to cover the travel costs of students, postdocs, and invited speakers. Travel funds for students and postdocs will be advertised to the community and made available through a competitive process. The symposium will have a broad scientific impact by encouraging the exchange of ideas between climate scientists in different stages of their research careers. It will also provide an opportunity for prominent researchers to educate and inspire the next generation of scientists in research areas related to tropical climate dynamics.