Come have lunch each week with young researchers from EPIC at this interdisciplinary lunch and learn series. This week will feature Jessica Castellanos and Branson Scott-Starr.





Rivers, Tigers, and Bears, Oh My – Legal Personhood and Climate Change by Jessica Castellanos

Jessica will present about the exciting advances being made in “standing doctrine” – a.k.a., who counts under the law. Environmental legal advocates have faced hurdles for decades because of the idea that nature is property, and therefore voiceless under the law. Recently, more courts have been receptive to the idea of granting rivers and forests “legal personhood.” Just like corporations and ships, these natural bodies can now be represented in court for their own sake. Jessica will outline these developments, what it means for climate change, how animals fit into the picture, and the many ways extractive industries are pushing against these newfound rights.


An Energy Regime Transition Above the Southern Ocean in Response to Increased CO2 by Branson Scott-Starr

In the modern climate, convective and advective heating are both important for balancing radiative cooling (so called Radiative Convective Advective Equilibrium, or RCAE) in the atmosphere above the Southern Ocean (60S – 70S). In response to an increase in CO2, the atmosphere above the Southern Ocean undergoes a transition to a radiative advective equilibrium (or RAE) regime, which today is only found in the polar regions. Here we use a moist static energy framework to show that the regime transition is predominantly associated with a decrease in convective heating (surface turbulent fluxes) and is not due to significant changes in radiative cooling or advection. Diagnosing the surface energy budget further reveals that the decrease in surface turbulent fluxes is balanced by the divergence of energy flux in the ocean mixed layer, likely due to passive upwelling of cold waters from below. In order to further test the importance of ocean energy flux divergence for the regime transition, we vary the ocean energy flux in an idealized column model. Our results demonstrate the transient ocean response to increased CO2 has an important impact on the atmospheric energy balance regime over the Southern Ocean.