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Atmospheric Sciences & Global Change
Newsmakers

February 2018

PNNL Researchers Share Earth Science Expertise

Annual science and policy forum includes AAAS Fellows L. Ruby Leung and Phil Rasch

Scientists from around the world rallied around the theme "discovery to application" at the 2018 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting, held from February 15-19 in Austin, Texas. Internationally recognized atmospheric scientists from PNNL joined the gathering, sharing their knowledge related to the connected climate system and implications for mankind based on the latest research.

Leung discusses the water-energy-land nexus

Ruby LeungDr. L. Ruby Leung studies Earth system modeling and the water cycle.

Water is everywhere. In addition to oceans and rivers, it flows through the soil beneath our feet and the sky over our head.

Dr. L. Ruby Leung discussed new insights related to the water cycle from the perspective of interactions between human and natural systems. In particular, she described how recent research sheds light on how irrigation and water management practices are tied to extreme weather events and the water-energy-land nexus.

With advanced computing capabilities, researchers can run complex model simulations of Earth systems coupled with data about human systems such as reservoir management, farming, and energy production. Across space and time, these simulations can duplicate historical changes and trends, and also project future changes. 

"Continuing advances in the science help us see how human activities are changing the terrestrial water cycle," says Leung, a Battelle Fellow whose research focuses on Earth system modeling and the water cycle. "This is important for informing business decisions related to water resources management and power generation."

Rasch takes reins of Atmospheric and Hydrospheric Sciences Section

Phil RaschDr. Phil Rasch leads the AAAS Atmospheric and Hydrospheric Sciences section, which represents scientists in meteorology, climatology, oceanography, and hydrology.

In addition to his other AAAS leadership duties, Dr. Phil Rasch led discussions about next year's symposium for the Atmospheric and Hydrospheric Sciences section. This section represents scientists in meteorology, climatology, oceanography, and hydrology. As part of his three-year term as an officer for that section, he took over as section chair February 20 and will serve in that capacity through the close of next year's meeting.

Over the next year, Rasch will apply his expertise to:

  • connect affiliated organizations with the affairs of the section,
  • identify broad issues in science of interest to the section and to the association overall, and
  • comment to the association leadership on operations and priorities, including worthwhile new initiatives deserving consideration in future planning.

Rasch explained that the AAAS plays an important role in national and international science by increasing communication among scientists, helping to coordinate science progress with societal needs, and "promoting strategies and standards for science that let people trust our research."

"It's a lot of work," he added, "but as all the parts come together and you see the vision jell into a whole, there is potential for real impact. I am glad to help where I can."

Other PNNL experts at the annual gathering included Kirsten Hofmockel, Janet Jansson, and Justin Teeguarden. Learn more about their science in this Biological Sciences Division highlight.


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