Raffaele Ferrari, a Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Oceanography, is one of the MIT researchers investigating anthropogenic influence on climate. His research focuses on the role that the ocean circulation plays in setting the rate at which the ocean takes up heat and carbon from the atmosphere in present and past climates. Ferrari and his group have demonstrated through theory and observations that small-scale turbulent motions play a crucial role in shaping both the rate and the pathways of this uptake; however, these motions are not properly represented in climate models.
To remedy this, the Ferrari group is contributing to the creation of a new-generation climate model that leverages machine learning and data assimilation techniques to better represent these important small-scale turbulent motions, both in the ocean and atmosphere, so as to close the knowledge gaps and increase certainty in climate predictions compared to existing models. The information produced will help inform decisions to ensure sustainability of the Earth and our environment.
For this work, the School of Science selected Ferrari for the 2019 Ally of Nature Fund Award, bestowed annually to support exploratory projects whose purpose is to prevent, reduce, and repair the impacts of humanity on the natural environment. The fund will be used to expand the Ferrari group’s research, supporting students who are developing basic theories for the role of small-scale ocean turbulence on large-scale circulation in simple, idealized problems — a key step to test the fidelity of the new-generation climate model.