Date April 5, 2018
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Brown faculty member to play leadership role on global climate change report

Baylor Fox-Kemper will be a coordinating lead author for a key chapter in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s next global climate assessment report.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — A Brown University faculty member will make a key contribution to the next global climate assessment to be released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Baylor Fox-Kemper, an associate professor in Brown’s Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences, has been named a coordinating lead author for a chapter of the report focused on Earth’s oceans, cryosphere and sea level. He and two other coordinating lead authors will lead a team of 20 or more scientists in assessing changes in temperature, sea level, ice sheets and other physical science aspects of climate change.

“It’s an honor to be selected by IPCC to do this,” said Fox-Kemper, who is also a fellow of the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society. “I’m looking forward to working with great scientists from around the world in updating our understanding of Earth’s oceans — how they’re affected by climate change as well has how they help to propagate changes throughout the climate system.”

Fox-Kemper studies the physics of ocean processes and develops computer models to simulate those processes. Much of his work focuses on incorporating small-scale phenomena like waves and eddies into models that capture global-scale ocean dynamics. He’ll bring that expertise to bear in the report, which will include an evaluation of state-of-the-art ocean models.

Fox-Kemper is also looking forward to using his expertise in multi-scale phenomena to help assess the impact of rising sea levels.

“We’re interested in not only the average rise in sea level, but also how that changes the likelihood of inundation in coastal communities,” Fox-Kemper said. “If wave activity changes along with sea level rise, then inundation becomes more likely. My work on surface waves will be relevant in helping to understand that.”

The chapter will be part of the IPCC’s sixth large-scale climate assessment. Released approximately every seven years, the assessment reports aim to provide a comprehensive overview of “the state of scientific, technical and socio-economic knowledge on climate change, its causes, potential impacts and response strategies.”

The fifth assessment was released in 2014, with the input of more than 800 scientists from around the world chosen from a pool of thousands of nominations. Similar numbers will contribute to the sixth report, which is scheduled for release in 2021.

“My colleagues and I have a lot of work ahead of us,” Fox-Kemper said. “I’m looking forward to getting started.”