Environment & Climate

Climate Scientist focus. Dr Kate Marvel – Climate Scientist, University Lecturer, Associate Research Scientist.

By January 14, 2021 No Comments

Each month Dolphin N2 will feature the work of a renowned Climate Scientist.

The Science of how our climate is forever changing, whether naturally or due to anthropogenic climate change; is crucial to the understanding of our planet.

This month we are focusing on the work of Dr Kate Marvel – Climate Scientist, University Lecturer, Associate Research Scientist.

‘Dr Kate Marvel is an associate research scientist at Columbia University & the Nasa Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York. She received a PhD in theoretical physics from the University of Cambridge in 2008 & has worked at the Carnegie Institution, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory & Stanford University. Her research focuses on climate modelling & clouds. She writes the Hot Planet column for Scientific American & in 2017 gave a TED Talk on clouds & climate change.’ (1)

Dr Marvel began to make the shift into Climate Sciences after being a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford, working on science policy & realising that she wanted to combine her Physics background, with something which would make a difference to the world.

When Kate approached the eminent climate scientist Steve Schneider at Stanford University to discuss her idea, he in no uncertain terms questioned her merits & it was then she knew it was definitely the direction she wanted to take. “I remember I went to go to talk to Steve Schneider, who was a very famous climate scientist at Stanford at the time, and he just looked at me and was like, “what, are you stupid?” I think that was when it really clicked that this was something that I could do.” (1)

Despite Dr Marvel’s outstanding & exceptional educational & scientific achievements; she is still not immune from negativity in the scientific community because she is a woman. As she has said herself, just because she doesn’t physically come up to the stereotype some hold as the representation of a scientist who just happens to be female; she is therefore not taken seriously, questioned about her research & methods & deemed ‘stupid’ by her peers.

“You get a lot of push back. You get a lot of people calling you stupid. You get a lot of people calling you uninformed in ways that I think that maybe they wouldn’t say to somebody who looks more like the stereotypical view of the scientist. The flip side of that is there are a lot of phenomenal women out there. Really amazing scientists, really amazing communicators, so you’re not alone and you do feel like you have this unbelievable community of people that you trust and respect and really look up to. And that’s kind of been a positive. “Dr Kate Marvel speaking to Carbon Brief, October 2018.

Dr Kate Marvel has a slightly satirical way of observing the climate changes around her & has in many of her own blogs & postings made reference to the ways in which the human race are mostly & historically responsible for the damage caused to the Earth’s atmosphere & climate.

Through her studies at Columbia University & NASA GISS, Dr Marvel has continued to develop the study of climate forcings (things that affect the planet’s energy balance) & feedbacks (processes that speed up or slow down warming). The work undertaken has proven that observed estimates of planet Earth’s sensitivity to greenhouse gases as biased low. Furthermore, the studies have shown that anthropogenic climate changes are already exhibiting changes in global drought patterns, cloud cover & in the timing and amount of regional rainfall. (2)

Dr Marvel explores the damage the industrial revolution has caused to the natural environment in her article ‘Our Climate’s Excellent Adventure’ & points directly at the correlation between the Industrial Revolution & the advancing climate changes we are seeing today. (3)

“With the possible exception of a few plutocrats and everyone in that “Gin Lane” engraving, nobody at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution looks like they’re having any fun.  This may be because they know they will not live to see our modern age of iPhones and Wikipedia and Kardashians, but it is more likely because they can’t breathe.

The famous “London Fog” refers not to a weather phenomenon, but to the noxious fug of factory smoke and ash hanging over the city.  Before the advent of clean air regulations and, I assume, Captain Planet, there were no limits to the smoke and dust and particulates that could be spewed into the atmosphere.  Climate scientists call these bits of dust “aerosols”.  There’s some evidence that before the West cleaned up its act, we spewed so much ash and dust into the atmosphere that we partially checked the greenhouse gas-caused global warming.” (3)

Despite Dr Marvel’s keenly observant insights & her research into the effects of climate change on the planet, she is hopeful about a future where humans can take responsibility for the damage they have inflicted.

“We can be doomed, if we choose to be. I think it is true that our choices in this coming decade really, really matter. We have to take drastic action A.S.A.P. That is true. A lot of people say catastrophic climate change is inevitable. Climate change is inevitable; it’s already happening. But there is a difference between bad, disruptive and completely catastrophic. And we still have time to prevent that catastrophe.” (4)

  1. https://www.carbonbrief.org/carbon-brief-interview-dr-kate-marvel
  2. http://www.marvelclimate.com/
  3. http://marvelclimate.blogspot.com/2014/10/our-climates-excellent-adventure.html
  4. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/19/climate/kate-marvel-environment.html