Natalie Mahowald

Natalie Mahowald
Cornell University
Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
Snee 2140
Fields of interest
Modeling atmospheric interactions between biogeochemistry and climate.
Description of scientific projects
My research group is focused understanding on global and regional scale atmospheric transport of biogeochemically important species such as desert dust. We are interested in how humans are perturbing the natural environment, especially through perturbations to aerosols. We look at these issues through a combination of 3-dimensional global transport and climate models, as well as analysis of satellite and in situ data. There are several main areas of research in my research group: Desert dust impacts climate through direct and indirect radiative forcing. In addition, desert dust supplies important micronutrients to the oceans (Fe and P). Desert dust has strong variability on daily, interannual, decadal and climate time scales, as well as strong gradients in space. Much of our work focuses on understanding this variability, and how it interacts with and drives climate and biogeochemical variations. We look specifically at how humans can induce changes in desert through climate change, co2 fertilization of plants and human land use. In addition to looking at how humans can impact the desert dust cycle, we look at how naturally occurring iron in mineral aerosols becomes bioavailable, and how humans may be perturbing that cycle. In addition, we are looking at how humans may be perturbing atmospheric phosphorus deposition. Paleorecords imply large changes in dust over glacial-interglacial time periods. Our group explores using models and data synthesis how these changes could have occured, and what the impacts on climate and biogeochemistry these changes will drive. We work with the National Center for Atmospheric Research?s Community Climate System Model to improve interactions between humans, biogeochemistry and climate. Currently we have funded projects to look at dust, fires and drought interactions with the carbon cycle and climate with collaborators across the country. Atmospheric transport in the troposphere is important for predicting and interpreting constituent variability. Our group has focused on building, evaluating and improving transport models within chemical transport models and general circulation models.