Jane W. Baldwin

Jane W. Baldwin
Assistant Professor
University of California Irvine
Earth System Science
Fields of interest
Atmosphere and Ocean Dynamics, Extreme Event Risk, Climate Modeling, Climate Impacts, Environmental Health, Catastrophe Modeling
Description of scientific projects
My group has three main research thrusts:

1) Mountains and climate: Mountains shape Earth’s climate at a range of scales. At large-scales, orographic features such as the Tibetan Plateau and Rocky Mountains force stationary wave patterns that stretch across the globe, driving zonal asymmetries in climate. At regional scales, mountains shape circulation patterns that play key roles driving phenomena ranging from monsoons to deserts to tropical cyclones. We utilize idealized experiments with numerical climate models to better understand these diverse influences of mountains, and in turn regional climate especially rainfall. Our work seeks to push beyond classical understanding of mountains impacts on climate to decipher the role of mountains in climatic extremes and in atmosphere-ocean coupled contexts. We also study the role of mountains and their numerical portrayal in climate model biases.

2) Tropical cyclones: Land-falling tropical cyclones are some of the most destructive natural events on Earth. These storms' strong winds, extreme precipitation, surge of seas along coastlines, and flooding cause massive asset losses and impoverishment of vulnerable people. We use a diversity of observations and modeling methods to understand controls on the distribution of tropical cyclones across Earth, and improve projections of their changes with global warming. Additionally, we seek to understand the impacts of tropical cyclones. For example, we currently collaborate with economists at the World Bank to quantify risks from tropical cyclones to wellbeing for people with different incomes. Ultimately, we seek to develop a holistic understanding of tropical cyclone risk that effectively considers hazard, vulnerability, exposure, and equity.

3) Heat waves: One of the most robustly projected consequences of increased levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is higher atmospheric temperatures, and resulting increased frequency and intensity of heat waves. Heat waves also have grave consequences for human health, resulting in substantial morbidity and mortality each year. While we can quantify these impacts in the present, projected changes in heat-related human health impacts remain uncertain. In our research, we 1) seek to better understand projected changes in physical characteristics of heat waves salient for their impacts, and 2) bridge disciplinary divides between epidemiology, medicine, and climate science to better model the health consequences of future heat waves and develop improved heat wave warning systems.