Prof. Joellen Russell, University of Arizona
2:30-3:30 p.m., Arizona Senior Academy Building
Dr. Joellen Russell grew up north of the Arctic Circle in an Eskimo fishing village and began actively working toward her current position at the age of 12. She says she can’t believe she gets paid to work on the biggest challenge of our time.
Prof. Russell’s research focuses on the ocean’s role in climate. Her earlier work on the westerly winds led to her greatest research accomplishment so far: the creation of a new paradigm in climate science, namely that warmer climates produce stronger westerly winds. This insight solved one of the long- standing climate paradoxes, the mechanism responsible for transferring one-third of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere into the ocean and then back out again during our repeated glacial-interglacial cycles. Her recent work includes patterns of drought in the continental U.S.; the interactions and feedbacks between orogeny and orography (mountain formation and topography) and regional and global climate; and the circulation of the methane atmosphere on Saturn’s moon, Titan.
Russell joined the faculty in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Arizona in 2006. She uses climate models and supercomputers like those at the new UA Research Data Center to simulate the earth system in the future, the present and the past. Prof. Russell was named a University of Arizona 1885 Society Distinguished Scholar in 2014 and won the UA Provost’s Teaching Award in 2010. She received her bachelor’s degree at Harvard University in Environmental Geoscience and earned her Ph.D in Oceanography at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego. Before joining the faculty in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Arizona, she worked at Princeton University at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association’s (NOAA) Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory during the intensive preparations for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment.
Written by Andrew Robertson, Academy Village Volunteer