Meet our Thompson Scholars: Cheryl Peyser

Cheryl Peyser working at her laptop.Degree Program: PhD

My current project involves the western Pacific Ocean, where sea-level rise rates are currently up to five times faster than the global mean. The eastern Pacific, on the other hand, is experiencing little to no rise in sea-level. Since ocean water expands as it warms, I can use sea-level as a fingerprint of heat stored in all layers of the ocean.

Before returning to school for my PhD I was a high school teacher for 10 years. I love teaching and would like to be a geoscience professor after graduating.
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Please tell us more about your research.
The tools for my research include observational ocean temperature and satellite altimetry data along with climate model simulations.Changes in deep ocean heat storage have been proposed as a mechanism for the current hiatus in Earth’s surface warming. The Pacific Ocean is especially important due to the natural variability it experiences on multi-decadal time scales. Learning more about the see-saw pattern in the Pacific Ocean can increase our understanding of the warming hiatus and guide predictions for US West Coast sea-level rise.

How did you become interested in pursuing geosciences?
I became interested in geosciences in high school when I got involved with Science Olympiad, participating in the rock, mineral, and fossil identification competition. I always enjoyed physics, chemistry and math classes. As an undergrad, I realized I could apply these skills to studying the Earth by majoring in geoscience.