Fox-Kemper NSF CAREER Award

March 21, 2014

Baylor Fox-Kemper, assistant professor of geological sciences, will receive $594,000 for work aimed at improving global circulation models of Earth’s oceans. 

Baylor Fox-Kemper: Improving the representation of small-scale eddies and currents in global simulations of ocean circulation.Baylor Fox-Kemper: Improving the representation of small-scale eddies and currents in global simulations of ocean circulation.

Fox-Kemper’s award is set to begin in the spring

Improving climate models

Scientists simulate circulation in the oceans to help understand the role oceans play in regulating climate. Current simulation methods, however, have a hard time incorporating the effects of small-scale currents and eddies into global models. Those phenomena, though occurring on the scale of only tens of kilometers, can have a significant influence on how heat and carbon dioxide are exchanged between the ocean and the atmosphere. Because these simulations are a primary tool in projecting future climate, including human-induced changes, accuracy is of utmost concern.

Fox-Kemper is developing mathematical and physical analyses that improve the representation of small phenomena in global models. Ultimately, he hopes these higher-resolution models will give scientists a better understanding of the oceans and enable better predictions about the pace and consequences of climate change.

The grant also includes a substantial education and outreach component. Fox-Kemper will give a series of public presentations throughout the state in collaboration with Rhode Island Save the Bay. To enrich those presentations, Fox-Kemper will work with Brown’s Science Center to produce a series of short animated films, dubbed SciToons, to help explain the physics of climate. A related sci-toon produced by the Science Center is available online.

“I am looking forward to the outreach activities in my grant because I am new to Rhode Island. I arrived only in December, 2012,” Fox-Kemper said. “I moved from a land-locked state, where interest in the oceans is more abstract. I am eager to meet other people working to ensure ocean sustainability and conservation and to meet students and citizens across Rhode Island who want to know more about climate and oceans.”

March 20, 2014  |  Media Contact: Kevin Stacey |  401-863-3766