• kate marvel

    climate scientist | writer

    I love it here.


    The Earth is my favorite planet, and I'm unbelievably grateful to study it for a living, And what a wonderful and interesting place it is. My research focuses on how human activities affect the climate and what we can expect in the future. I use satellite observations, computer models, and basic physics to study the human impact on variables we care about, from rainfall patterns to cloud cover.


    I'm a theoretical physicist by training. My PhD thesis calculated the probability our Universe could spontaneously decay via quantum tunneling (low, mercifully). While I now study more tangible things, I use the mathematical and physical problem solving techniques I learned in my graduate work every day.


    In my few spare moments I enjoy writing about science, culture, and other things that interest me. I've also been lucky enough to work with talented and creative journalists to visualize and explain climate science.


    Thanks for stopping by!

  • Work History

    Where I've been and what I've done

    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.

    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    Postdoctoral Researcher

    My postdoctoral work 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.

    Carnegie Institution

    Postdoctoral Scholar

    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!



    Science Fellow

    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.

  • Writing

    Articles, media, and more

    The Parallel Universes of a Woman in Science


    Nautilus Magazine

    Personal essay about science, love, and choices

    The Hidden Importance of Clouds

    Nautilus Magazine

    Will Nature save us from ourselves?

    What's Really Warming the World?

    Bloomberg News

    Eric Roston and Blacki Migliozzi's splendid visualization of our data

    Things to Say

    My blog

    Sporadically updated and deeply irresponsible

  • Social Media

    Latest updates