Current Greenberg Fellow
Degree Sought: Ph.D. Atmospheric Science
Dissertation Research: The effects of climate change on the climatology of simulated extratropical cyclones – application of a high-resolution global climate model.
Arielle Catalano is pursuing a Ph.D. in Atmospheric Science in the Department of Environmental Sciences. Her research uses a high-resolution global climate model (GFDL FLOR) to simulate extreme extratropical cyclones in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean, which are storms that thrive on temperature contrasts and are more common during the cold season. Extratropical cyclones are capable of producing major inundation events over this region due to the strong winds they produce, which threatens the well-being of coastal residents. Climate models are mathematical representations of the climate system, and are used to improve our understanding and predictability of climate behavior by providing a homogeneous dataset that includes atmospheric components such as temperature, pressure, and wind. Arielle’s preliminary results from a comparison of measures of cyclone intensity (i.e. maximum near-surface wind speeds) with observations indicate that FLOR realistically simulates extreme extratropical cyclones for further analyses.
The increase in global temperatures that accompany the changing climate may influence the climatology of coastal storms due to changes in atmospheric moisture content and the meridional temperature gradient. Arielle’s work includes using a tracking algorithm to identify all extratropical cyclones in the model, and analyzing storm-track distribution and properties to determine changes in storm climatology for simulations under present and future climate conditions. Subsequent research may include determining coastal risks associated with sea level rise and extreme extratropical cyclones. Because climate change projections suggest increased rates of sea level rise and possible changes in storm activity, an improved estimate of risks considering all potential changes is essential to urban planning in densely populated coastal regions.
Arielle has always been interested in natural disasters, particularly the effects of climate change on cyclones following the anomalous and devastating 2005 hurricane season. Her scientific research career began in high school, and developed into a desire to educate others about climate change and the importance of research. Arielle notes, “The William H. Greenberg Fellowship supports my educational and research efforts, and it is an honor to receive this funding. I am grateful for all that this fellowship provides, which includes the freedom to expand my volunteering efforts while delving into the heart of my research. The Greenberg Fellowship perfectly encompasses what is important to me as a scientist: understanding climate change impacts and improving public awareness of these consequences.”