Studying my favorite planet
MA Program in Climate and Society
I teach Dynamics of Climate Variability and Change to the smartest, most dedicated students in the world.
Columbia University and NASA GISS
Associate Research Scientist
I study climate forcings (things that affect the planet's energy balance) and feedbacks (processes that speed up or slow down warming). Our work here has shown that observational estimates of the Earth's sensitivity to greenhouse gases are probably biased low: assuming climate changes will be small is not a very good idea. We've also shown that human influences are already apparent in global drought patterns, cloud cover, and in the timing and amount of regional rainfall.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
We identified a "fingerprint" of human influence on global precipitation patterns and showed that we are already changing rain and snowfall. This is both reassuring, because it suggests climate model projections are credible, and terrifying, because it suggests climate model projections are credible.
How much wind power could we theoretically extract from the atmosphere before severe climate consequences result? Our work showed that this geophysical limit is large- an order of magnitude greater than worldwide electricity demand. So go ahead and put those turbines in the jet stream!
As a Science Fellow at Stanford, I worked on policy-relevant scientific issues like nuclear power safety, climate model downscaling, and electrical grid resilience. Our work suggested that distributed grids, with electricity generated at local scales, can be inherently more fault-tolerant than centralized grids.
Articles for a wider audience
Questions and answers
TALKS AND PODCASTS
Speaking and listening
My favorite places for climate information
Climate change is a story, and how we tell that story matters. Mary Annaise Heglar and Amy Westervelt (who also hosts the gripping Drilled podcast) are funny, engaging, and passionate about climate storytelling. They’re careful to get the science right, but they recognize that climate isn’t a problem for scientists- it’s everyone’s problem
How To Save a Planet
Marine biologist Ayana Elizabeth Johnson is my personal climate hero, Kendra Pierre-Louis is the absolute best science reporter out there, and Alex Blumberg really knows how to pull together a great podcast. This supergroup might not save the planet by themselves (I think we should probably help them out on that) but they’ve made a really interesting podcast that I find useful and almost soothing to listen to.
A Matter of Degrees
Some of the questions I’m asked most frequently are the questions I’m not well-equipped to answer: How do we solve this? What can I do? Which policies do you support? I’m a physicist; my job is to solve equations, not long-standing social problems. All I can do is direct you to people who do know what they’re talking about. Leah Stokes and Katharine Wilkinson are those people. They’re also incredibly knowledgeable, warm, funny, and engaging, and their podcast is great for climate solutions.
How accurate is that article you just read? Does it capture the science accurately, or is it leaving something out or just plain wrong? At Climate Feedback, you can see what scientists actually say about claims made in the media.
Lindy Williams © 2017