About me

Hi! I am a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Physics at the University of Oxford, working with Prof. Laure Zanna (currently of NYU Courant). I work to better understand the role of the ocean in Earth's past, current, and future climate. As a current Junior Research Fellow at Kellogg College, a former NOAA Climate & Global Change Postdoctoral Fellow at the California Institute of Technology, and a former UW Program on Ocean Change IGERT Fellow, I am also interested in the socio-economic dimensions and implications of global climate change.

Recent Work

What sets ocean warming patterns?

The spatial pattern of ocean warming has a critical influence on regional sea level rise and atmospheric warming rates. One goal of my research is to identify the physical drivers of ocean warming patterns. In this work, we use Green's Functions to understand how changes to the ocean circulation under climate change alter where heat is stored in the ocean. We find that ocean currents robustly shift in order to move heat out of the regions where heat is most strongly absorbed from atmosphere. This relationship may help us understand how and why ocean currents will change, and predict how warming patterns will evolve, in the coming century.

Warming pattern effect on ocean heat uptake

Most of the excess heat in the climate system due to anthropogenic forcing is absorbed into the global oceans. The efficiency with which this ocean heat absorption occurs strongly paces the rate of atmospheric warming. In this study, we explored how the spatial pattern of warming at the ocean's surface incluences the rate of ocean heat uptake. To do so, we used a combination of Global Climate Models and observationally-based transport Green's Functions. We found that surface warming patterns characteristic of modern climate robustly reduce ocean heat uptake -- by nearly 25 percent on average across model simulations [see Newsom et al., 2020: doi.org/10.1029/2020GL088429].

Global Overturning across climates

The circuit of currents that transit the global ocean, known as the Global Overturning Circulation (GOG), are a fundamental component of global climate. Significant evidence suggests that the GOC was different in climates of the past and that it will change in a warmer future climate. However, the drivers of these changes are not fully understood. In this study, we explored how the configuration and strength of the GOC relates to the amount of heat gained within the tropical ocean. We demonstrated a strong, and previously unknown, relationship between the magnitude of heat uptake over the Indo-Pacific Ocean and global overturning strength, which holds across a wide range of climate states and imply that glacial overturning transitions will differ from those in the future [see Newsom et al., 2021: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2021.117033].

The role of the Indo-Pacific in Global Ocean Overturning

Many studies have shown that polar climate changes can significantly disrupt the configuration of global currents known as the Global Overturning Circulation (GOG). One of my particular interests is to better understanding the (relatively) unexplored influence of surface processes in the lower latitude ocean on the GOC. In this study, we showed that magnitude of heat and freshwater absorbed from the atmosphere by the Indo-Pacific oceans is fundamentally coupled to the strength of global overturning. [see Newsom and Thompson, 2018: https://doi.org/10.1029/2018GL080350; Holmes et al., 2019: https://doi.org/10.1029/2019GL085160]

Sea ice and Southern Ocean dynamics

Another aim of my research is to understand the role of sea ice formation in the Southern Ocean on the global climate [see Newsom et al., 2016: https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-15-0513.1, Abernathey et al., 2016: doi:10.1038/ngeo2749, Armour et al., 2016: doi:10.1038/ngeo2731].

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