The Zender Research Group studies the microphysics of trace gas, aerosol, and surface interactions with Earth’s radiative, thermodynamic, and chemical processes. Charles Zender and his team develop and refine the representation of these processes to improve climate prediction. Model simulations, combined with lab, field, and satellite data, help them predict and attribute features of climate and climate change. Current research includes mineral dust and carbonaceous aerosols, snow lifecycle and albedo, aerosol impacts on ocean biogeochemistry, wind-driven surface energy/mass exchange, climate-disease links, and super-dooper-big-scale data analysis. The team’s aerosol, radiative transfer, and data processing models are freely available and are used by geoscientists world-wide.
Research Area: Atmospheric Chemistry, Physical Climate
I am a physicist who studies climate to help piece together the climate puzzle so that as people alter Earth, intentionally or not, we better understand the likely outcomes. Rapid changes like vanishing snow and ice, blowing dust, and burning forests fascinate me most, because fast processes often indicate pressure points to which Earth is sensitive. Recently we discovered that nothing heats the planet faster than the pollution that darkens snow. This has helped spur the policy shift to reduce soot emissions. My current research includes desert dust and fire-emitted soot particulates, snowpack lifecycle, reflectance, and emission, wind-dispersal of nutrients and pathogens, wind-drag effects on deserts and oceans, wind-induced melt, and ice shelf hydrofracture. Better understanding of these processes will improve predictions of dust storms, disease endemicity, seasonal snowpack, and ice shelf disintegration. I also work to accelerate large-scale analysis techniques for data stored in netCDF format which predominates in the geosciences.
I am a physical geographer specializing in cryosphere-climate processes. My focus is on understanding how material properties of snowpack, such as density and albedo, interact with climate and the surface mass balance of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. Our work aims to improve climate predictions by refining the most important cryosphere-climate interactions in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM). In developing how E3SM represents these interactions, we learn more about how the surface of Earth’s massive ice sheets will respond to future climate change.
Juan Tolento joined the Zender Group in Fall 2020 after applying through the AGU Bridge Program. Broad research interests lie in radiative transfer models. More specifically, he hopes to be able to make improvements in how models treat shortwave radiation over cryospheric surfaces (snow, ice and ocean). The aim is to better constrain the surface energy budget in order to improve surface and atmospheric heating rates, as well as capturing a more accurate snow albedo feedback in Earth system models.
Chloe is a PhD candidate working with Dr. Mark Flanner in the Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering Department at the University of Michigan. Chloe is currently a long-term visiting graduate student with Dr. Zender’s group at UCI in the department of Earth System Science. She is studying how bare ice and biotic particles influence the radiative budget of the Greenland Ice Sheet, with a focus on bare ice and snow and ice algal blooms. Her goal is to incorporate the radiative influence of bare ice and light absorbing algae into the Energy Exascale Earth System Model to understand their contribution to polar warming, Greenland Ice melt, and sea-level rise. Long term, she plans to continue to work on the development of Earth System Models and our ability to accurately model cryosphere-climate interactions. More generally, Chloe is interested in how we represent small scale processes within global fully coupled simulations of the earth system. Outside of her research, she spends her time exercising, enjoying the outdoors, working on social advocacy projects within STEM, and volunteering with organizations to teach diverse groups of children about climate science and computer programming.
Lili is a PhD student working on refining the spectral resolution in state-of-the-art atmospheric radiative transfer models. Lili joined the Zender Research Group and Earth System Science Department in 2022.
Matt is a PhD Candidate in the Earth System Science department at the University of California, Irvine. Matt’s broad interests focus on the Earth’s cryosphere and its many interconnected systems. Specifically, Matt aims to better understand the impact of foehn (warm and dry downslope winds) and katabatic winds have on surface melt and ice shelf stability in Antarctica and Greenland. His work uses an interdisciplinary approach that combines, surface observations, model simulations, data science, and machine learning, with the ultimate goal to help identify impacts of climate change on the Earth system.
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I am a research scientist in the Zender Research Group. I am trying to figure out which physical processes contribute the most to the recent acceleration of Greenland’s surface melt using data from automatic weather stations, satellite observations, reanalyses, and model simulations. During my Ph.D., I developed a method to reduce the station-tilt-induced biases in radiation measured by automatic weather stations, a long-lasting issue in in-situ measurements. During my postdoc, I collaborated with a former group member, Ajay Saini, to automate this tilt correction procedure for the community to use: https://github.com/jaws/jaws. I am also interested in simulating the climate effects of increased emissions from trans-Arctic shipping and assessing the shrinking Salton Sea’s impact on the air quality in surrounding residential areas.
I am a PhD candidate in the Earth System Science department at UC Irvine. My research focuses on the longwave energy budget of sea ice and how it can be improved in climate models. My work involves updating the Department of Energy’s Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM) to change from a single broadband solution of longwave energy to a more detailed spectrally-resolved solution in order to include spectrally-resolved and surface type dependant emissivities that are more physically realistic into the model. These updates make the model more physically accurate and we hope will improve the representation of sea ice and the atmospheric processes tied to it in the model.
164 Rowland Hall
University of California, Irvine
Irvine, CA 92697-4675