Photo of Chris Fairall
Image Courtesy of Chris Fairall
Dr. Chris Fairall
I am a physicist at NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, where I head the Weather and Climate Physics Branch. I am working to unravel the mysteries of how the ocean and atmosphere battle each other as part of the Earth's climate system from El Nino to hurricanes. I have spent decades developing and deploying air-sea interaction observing systems on NOAA ships and aircraft and have participated in nearly 50 research field programs and cruises from the Tropics to the Arctic icecap.
My work is devoted to making direct measurements for verifying and improving the representation of air-sea interaction processes in climate models used for climate change projections. These measurements include such things as surface evaporation, absorption of heat, generation of waves, and uptake of carbon dioxide. Do the models get the right clouds (stratus, cumulus, thunderstorms) over the right ocean? Do they transfer the right amount of carbon dioxide from the air to the water? Do they put the right amount of heat into the tropical oceans and take it out in the polar oceans? How does the ocean power hurricanes, and what is required to allow realistic hurricanes to ‘live' in climate models? Do they correctly represent the heat balance of the Arctic Ocean ice cap? This observing technology work has also led to improvements in the global ocean observing system. I am currently working on improving hurricane intensity forecasts.
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