Alex Hall developed an educational and public outreach project to “downscale” information from global climate models. He is creating high-resolution projections of future climate at the neighborhood scale. This will give communities the knowledge of how climate change will affect them in their own backyards.
Alex is a Professor and Vice Chair in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at UCLA. He holds a PhD in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences from Princeton University. Alex plays an active role in many climate organizations. He is the director for the Center for Climate Change Solutions at UCLA and is a member of the Sustainable LA Grand Challenge Project steering committee, the UCLA-JPL Joint Institute for Regional Earth System Science and Engineering executive committee, and the LA Collaborative Climate Action and Sustainability board. Alex was a lead author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 5th Assessment Report on regional climate change. He also received an NSF CAREER award.
To learn more about Alex and his research visit his website.
Alex is bringing certainty to climate models.
Broadly, Alex’s research focuses on reducing climate change uncertainty at global and regional scales. At the global scale, his goal is to reduce uncertainty in how the amount of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere may change. At the regional scale, he is downscaling models so that we can understand what is happening at the neighborhood level. This way, processes that are crucial to regional climate change can be included in global climate models.
Alex is making high-resolution projections by downscaling climate models to the neighborhood scale. More specifically, he is focusing on a project in the Sierra Nevada mountain range and is investigating the effects of warming on snowpack, wildfire, and implications for water resource management.
By downscaling global climate models, Alex can provide great detail about future changes in climate. Currently, a single data point within a global climate model can cover a large area. This can miss a large amount of variety in within the landscape.
In terms of outreach, Alex is reaching out to the UCLA community, stakeholders, and the public. At UCLA, he is giving a special lecture on climate change in California and the Sierra Nevada. This will include recent, high-resolution projections of how climate change will affect these areas. This will be supplemented by workshops held by the Center for Climate Change Solutions to engage UCLA faculty and water resource managers. The goal of these workshops will be to identify stakeholder needs and opportunities to collaborate. Alex will meet with stakeholders in Northern California to discuss the results of his downscaling approach in the Sierra Nevada.
In order to engage the public, Alex will work with UCLA Media Relations to create ten short videos explaining important concepts in climate science, including the effect of climate change on California.
This map shows the Sierra Nevada mountain range. This is the geographical region at the focus of Alex’s project. Alex is downscaling global climate models in order to make high-resolution predictions about climate change. Credit: Alex Hall
Q&A WITH ALEX
What is a common misperception from non-scientists about climate research?
Global climate model projections of future climate don’t produce one definitive answer; instead they represent a range of possible outcomes. In scientific discourse, we call this uncertainty. When some people hear “uncertainty,” they think it means scientists don’t know climate is changing and are fundamentally unsure what the future holds. But, this is far from the case. We know global warming is occurring, we know it will continue, and we know it will affect humans and the ecosystems we depend on. My work focuses on reducing the uncertainty in climate model projections so we can have a clearer picture of these impacts and address them.
What is the most rewarding part about being a UC Climate Action Champion?
My project is to educate Californians about my team’s findings on future climate in the Sierra Nevada, which have important implications for water resources in the state. It’s great to have the opportunity to interact with people outside the world of climate science, and to help them understand their climate future.
What do you hope your project contributes to your university, the UC-system, and society?
My hope for my project is that helping people understand climate impacts in the Sierra Nevada will lead to smarter water resources management in California, and better design of our water resources infrastructure.
What is one thing you want to tell non-scientists about climate change?
Well, there are many things I would like to tell people about climate change—and am telling them as part of my project. But, if I were limited to one message, it would be that interdisciplinary research is the key to planning for climate change. When we understand how climate change translates to impacts on people, ecosystems, natural resources, and human systems, climate change becomes a challenge we can know and meet.