The central focus of the Earth, Wind & Particles research group in the Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Department at UCLA is to understand and describe interactions between particles and the climate system. The overarching goal for this work is to reduce the uncertainty on predictions of future climate changes. Since the climate impact of aerosols (particles suspended in the atmosphere) constitutes one of the main uncertainties in our understanding of both past and future climate changes, most of our group’s work is focused on understanding aerosol emission and climate impacts. Within this
broad field of aerosol-climate interactions, most of my group’s work focuses on mineral dust aerosols, which are the constituent particles of dust storms, and are the dominant atmospheric aerosol by mass. Dust aerosols contribute to climate change because human land use changes are responsible for about a quarter of dust emissions. In turn, aridity, and thus dust emissions, are highly sensitive to climate changes, thereby setting up a poorly understood climate feedback.
In order to better quantify these convoluted interactions between dust aerosols and climate, much of our group’s research focuses on understanding the complex physics of dust emission, and the subsequent impacts of emitted dust on climate. Our group does so by developing new theories, parameterizations, first-principles numerical models, and the occasional field measurements to understand and describe dust emission. We also use climate models to use the resulting insights to better constrain the impacts of dust on climate. Finally, our group is interested in aeolian processes across the solar system, and especially on Mars and Saturn’s moon Titan. Our group’s research is discussed in more detail here.
The Earth, Wind & Particles research group is headed by professor Jasper Kok, and funded by the National Science Foundation, NASA, the Army Research Office, and the U.S. – Israel Binational Science Foundation.