Scientist of the Month: Soumik Basu

As an IARC PhD candidate, Soumik Basu uses climate models to study changes and variability in extratropical storms in a warming climate. As he works to develop his own research and scholarship, Basu also benefits the IARC and UAF traditions of leading-edge science, especially in the areas of climate dynamics and projections.

IARC’s Publications team interviewed Basu recently about his research, background, and interests.

What might interest people about your recent work?

Much of my current research focuses on the variabilities and changes in extratropical storms in response to an altered climate, especially in the Northern Hemisphere. Specifically, the purpose of modeling experiments like my own is to understand the variability and changes in storm activity by examining a number of potential forcing factors, such as sea surface temperature (SST) and Arctic sea ice. By doing this, we can study with more confidence the details of changes in surface climate that storm activities induce, in response to different surface forcings.

For my work, one specific novelty that we have employed is the geographical division of the Northern Hemisphere into a few different regions with prominent storm activity, with the Arctic at the center. This enables us to detail how storms develop and move not only within a particular area, but also across and between these large, climatologically distinct portions of the globe. In our recent publication in Geophysical Research Letters, for example, our research team showed that the southern part of North America may see dramatically increased storm activity in winter and spring, in response to elevated SST over the Tropical Pacific. In another experiment we have also observed that reduced sea ice in the Arctic has caused increased storminess over Arctic regions and declined storm activity over mid-latitudes in spring.

Recent studies have shown increasing frequency and intensity of El Niño and a rapid decline in Arctic sea ice. Results from this study would help improve understanding, enhance predictive capability, and reduce future projection uncertainties regarding storm events over the Northern Hemisphere, under the scenario of a changed El Niño or reduced Arctic sea ice induced by global warming forcing. I believe this is important for policy-making processes, as an increase in storm events in a warming climate has significant implications for our society and the natural environment.

Have you always been interested in climate science?

Scientific study has always been on my mind since I was young, especially since both of my parents are skilled scientists and hold PhDs in organic chemistry. My own shift toward atmospheric science and climate modeling came as a result of strong relationships with very good professors during my graduate work at the University of Calcutta. This interest further led me to IARC, as I was eager to work with Xiangdong Zhang and a number of IARC’s and the UAF Department of Atmospheric Sciences’ climate and modeling experts for my PhD study.

Do you have other interests or pastimes aside from your research?

I have a number of hobbies that I enjoy, including reading, playing the piano, playing cricket (when the weather is right), and collecting intricate dinosaur models. I have a particular passion for cooking and I make sure to leave some room in my bags whenever I travel, for extra Indian ingredients and spices.

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Last updated: Feb 20, 2014