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Clouds and Climate Tipping Points

Tapio Schneider’s Watson Lecture at Caltech (April 24, 2019). Low clouds over subtropical oceans cool Earth’s climate because they reflect much of the sunlight shining on them back to space. They are fundamentally important for regulating Earth’s climate, yet difficult to capture in global climate models. This lecture presents results from high-resolution simulations of subtropical stratocumulus clouds. The results points to a possible tipping point of the climate system: if greenhouse gas concentrations rise high enough, subtropical low clouds may break up, triggering dramatic global warming. This may explain how the Arctic once could have been warm enough to harbor crocodiles, as we know it did 50 million years ago, when CO2 concentrations were 3 or 4 times higher than they are today.

Challenges in Climate Dynamics

Tapio Schneider’s introductory lecture at ETH Zurich, October 2013, on some recent results and remaining challenges in climate dynamics.

Where the Wind Comes From, on Earth and Other Planets

Tapio Schneider’s Watson Lecture at Caltech (Nov. 11, 2009). It covers a history of ideas about how winds on Earth arise, leading to a modern perspective of what controls winds and their structure on Earth and other planets.

Distant Worlds – Strange Climates

A workshop discussion of climates in our solar system, how we know about other planets and moons, and what we can learn from them about climate dynamics more broadly. (Produced by Oliver Stebler. Originally the interview was in German. This version is voiced over in English.)