|Posted on Nov 07, 2011 03:38:32 PM | Gerald Steeman | 0 Comments ||
By Matthew Stangl, Langley Aerospace Research Summer Scholars (LARSS) Intern
As one of the leading climate scientists working at NASA Langley, Bruce Wielicki has been in charge of many significant projects. He considers leading other scientists in these projects to be his greatest accomplishment, while he has been working at NASA. By “being able to herd those scientific cats,” Bruce allowed his projects to prosper under his guidance.
Bruce began his academic career with oceanography at Scripps Institute of Oceanography (SIO). While working in graduate school, Bruce was fortunate to work with one of the earliest climate models. Whenever cloud feedback was added to the model, the model changed drastically. After this incident, Bruce realized that he couldn’t study oceanography any longer. This led to Bruce changing his graduate focus to climate research and transferring to the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). He has been “chasing the holy grail of cloud feedback” ever since that moment. Bruce started working at NASA in 1981 for post-doctorate work. He did not originally plan to work at NASA past completion of his post-doctorate.. However, 30 years later he is still working at NASA.
Bruce has spent a large portion of his career, starting in 1988, working on the CERES (Clouds and Earth's Radiant Energy System) mission. He has recently switched his focus to developing a new set of climate instruments called CLARREO (Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory). CLARREO is “about taking the next big step in accuracy of climate data” and will allow for an even better analysis of climate change including cloud feedback. Among all of the projects that Bruce led over his many years at NASA, he considers CERES to be his favorite. Bruce spent the majority of his career working toward the holy grail of climate feedback. Since “Cloud feedback itself is sort of the holy grail for climate sensitivity” this has led to many developments on cloud studies of our climate system.
Using climate information going back hundreds of years, climatologists similar to Bruce are able to analyze and predict past and future climates. Compilation of satellite data started during the 1970s. Prior to that time frame there was data from weather balloons and other methods dating back hundreds of years. Information on climate can even be found farther in the past by “taking deep cores from Antarctica and Greenland” and examining them. This information allows for climate scientists to evaluate better the current climate. But the new satellite data provide the most complete picture of climate ever assembled.
One element that frustrates Bruce is the media’s inability to accurately report on scientific matters. For example, the media produced controversial articles on "climategate" condemning global warming as a scientific conspiracy. “Ninety five percent of climate scientists knew as soon as they read that article that it was inaccurate, but there was no way for us to get that information to the public easily.” He suggests that in order to determine whether scientific climate change data is accurate to rely on, data must be approved by a wide range of climate scientists, never just one or even a few.
You can clearly tell, from talking to Bruce, that he enjoys what he does at NASA. This has allowed him to accomplish some extraordinary projects, while at NASA. His work in leading the CERES project from the ground up has, and will continue to provide important information about the climate. We know his future projects will be successful as well.
See some of Bruce Wielicki's publications on the NTRS: http://go.usa.gov/IlE.
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Tags : Authors, General