Meet our Sumner Scholars: Paul Goddard

Paul Goddard standing on the beach in front of the oceanDegree Program: PhD

Climatology offers the ability to explore a multitude of diverse processes occurring at all time and spatial scales. Studying the climate demands knowledge of our atmosphere, oceans, and land processes. I find the field to be as challenging as it is rewarding. Under our current state of the climate change, the importance of conducting great research has never been higher. Thus, it is quite gratifying to know that one’s research has the potential to aid future society as well as the natural Earth. 

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Please describe your research.
During the first two years of my graduate work, I studied the processes that contribute to the high rates of sea level rise along the East Coast of the United States. Climate change is impacting the density of the North Atlantic Ocean resulting in observed changes in Atlantic Ocean circulation. My adviser, Dr. Jianjun Yin, and I are publishing papers that suggest under future climate change the East Coast is likely to experience anomalously high rates of sea level rise due primarily to changes in ocean circulation.

Our research utilizes the very best climate models along with the most up to date observations to untangle the complicated dynamics and decipher the underlying cause of past, present, and future climate change. Furthermore, we are immersed in collaborative work across the country that creates and analyzes new climate models. The climatology field is advancing in leaps and bounds, and I am eager to see what we learn next.

Is there a class that has been a favorite of yours, and why?
I benefitted the most from taking an Earth systems modeling course. The class combines the mathematics and physics that are involved in the fluid dynamics of the atmosphere and oceans and teaches one how to input these equations into a computer. From here, one is able to devise schemes and computer code that allow for the natural processes to be simulated. The coursework and text are thorough in their explanation of the physics behind the observed natural processes and details the relative importance of each process. Though the course was just the tip of the iceberg for creating a climate model, it provides an important insight to the development of the models and appreciation for all climate modelers.

What do you plan to do after you graduate?
My plan for the future is not set in stone. I am positive, though, that I will continue my work as a climate researcher and become involved in relaying the science being conducted at the highest academic level to those people living in the communities that are most susceptible to future climate change.