About

Dr Kaitlin Naughten is an ocean modeller at the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, UK.

She became interested in climate science as a teenager on the Canadian Prairies, and increasingly began to notice the discrepancies between scientific and public knowledge on climate change. She started writing this blog at age sixteen to help address this gap in public understanding, and it slowly evolved into a record of her research as a young climate scientist.

Kaitlin’s first research experience came during her undergraduate degree at the University of Manitoba. Each summer she travelled somewhere new to work as a research assistant: to the University of Toronto with Prof Steve Easterbrook, the University of Victoria with Prof Andrew Weaver, and the University of New South Wales in Australia with Prof Katrin Meissner.

She returned to Australia for her PhD, supervised by Prof Meissner as well as Dr Ben Galton-Fenzi and Prof Matthew England. At point she began to specialise in ice-ocean modelling: simulating the interactions of Antarctic ice shelves with the surrounding Southern Ocean, and the potential consequences for sea level rise. This theme has continued into Kaitlin’s first postdoc at the British Antarctic Survey, where she is focusing on the Weddell Sea region of Antarctica and the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf cavity.

The header image is from St Clair Beach in Dunedin, New Zealand, where Kaitlin was born. (In Dunedin, that is, not on the beach.)

Publications

Please note Kaitlin’s former surname Alexander.

Questions or comments? Email Kaitlin here.

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Based on a work at climatesight.org.
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56 thoughts on “About

  1. Great start on a blog – best of luck to you.

    When you start getting bombed by the skeptics, you’ll know you’re getting to them.

    • I’ve had a bunch of skeptical comments but all of them so far have violated our comment policy (see the page Our Purpose) by insulting me personally and calling me an alarmist and quasi-religious zealot :) No intelligent skeptical comments so far…..I did get a good one however which said that the “global warming stopped in 1998” claim was proposed by all sorts of peer-reviewed sources….then proceeded to link me to Climate Audit.

  2. climatesight, the video is here.

    Yep. Gore has grown tremendously over the years, working on something he truly believes in.

    (PS, how hard is preview?)

  3. Martin Vermeer: “Gore has grown tremendously over the years”

    I’m trying very hard to resist making some sort of “Al Gore is fat!” joke here, and failing. I’m so sorry.

    Erm, anyway, good idea for a site, it always annoys me when sceptics/deniers try to have detailed discussions of the science and ask for “the peer-reviewed paper that conclusively demonstrates CO2 causes warming”. I just want to shout at them that neither of us is qualified to have that discussion and that it’s far more useful to look at who’s making a particular claim – the oil/tobacco/coal lobby on one side, pretty much everyone else on the other side…

    • Good for you. We’re not scientists (yet) and we shouldn’t pretend to be. The ultimate question should always be, “Is this a threat worth addressing?” That’s the only reason the public cares about the science at all. Beyond that, it’s just sort of a nerdy interest of mine.

      • I studied under the world’s preeminent dinosaur track expert, Dr. Martin Lockley; a nicer, down-to-earth fella you could not have asked for. He writes prolifically and at the time (90s) I began to write for fun. In a conversation in class one with him, I remarked that I wasn’t nearly a writer yet, having just embarked upon the journey, and Doc Martin asked me, “What is a writer?” I said, “Uhhhh….what?” He replied, “One who writes.”

        I never forgot that. As a scientist (I actually HAVE the document on some wall, somewhere…) I will say to you; being a scientist starts WAY before you get the piece of parchment.

  4. Great work – thankyou for giving your time to this blog. As I couldn’t see a ref on your sidebar, I just thought you might like to visit Professor Barry Brook’s (Adelaide University) blog http://www.bravenewclimate.com He deals with climate science, pseudo sceptics and, importantly, solutions for the planet. Enjoy reading and why not add it to your lists.

    • Dear moderator: I REALLY liked how you leave the NAME of the miscreant up while snipping their comments…EXCELLENT!

  5. I recommend:

    The Psychology of Climate Change Communication
    A Guide for Scientists, Journalists, Educators, Political Aides, and the Interested Public

    http://www.cred.columbia.edu/guide/

    “The ultimate solutions to climate change are workable, cost-effective technologies which permit society to improve living standards while limiting and adapting to changes in the climate. Yet scientific, engineering, and organizational solutions are not enough. Societies must be motivated and empowered to adopt the needed changes.

    For that, the public must be able to interpret and respond to often bewildering scientific, technological, and economic information. Social psychologists are aware, through their painstaking scientific research, of the difficulties that individuals and groups have in processing and responding effectively to the information surrounding long-term and complex societal challenges.

    This guide powerfully details many of the biases and barriers to scientific communication and information processing. It offers a tool—in combination with rigorous science, innovative engineering, and effective policy design—to help our societies take the pivotal actions needed to respond with urgency and accuracy to one of the greatest challenges ever faced by humanity: global-scale, human-induced environmental threats, of which the most complex and far reaching is climate change.”

    —Jeffrey Sachs, Director, The Earth Institute, Columbia University

    Alan Burke, Editor, GreenLine Communications
    http://greenlinemag.homeip.net (soon to be http://www.greenlinemag.com)

  6. It is great to see this website. Not the first time I have visited, and not the last. I teach environmental science in Brandon (Manitoba) and find many of my students are either cautiously skeptical (my views are well known, so perhaps they’re not willing to get into a debate over climate change with their professor), and some passionately wanting to defend the planet against climate change. What I find in all of them is a sense of despair that they, as individuals, can’t effect change. I think this website is a clear example that one person can make a difference.

    As a climate scientist (I reconstruct climates of the past using fossils) and an educator, a common theme I encounter is the extent to which many people rely on hearsay and secondary sources from the internet and print media when deciding and defending their position on climate change. I would think many people find reading science confronting. My mother, now near 80, likes to debate climate change with her fellow RVers back in Australia. I directed her to a great site by CSIRO, Australia’s main federal government research organization, and also the Bureau of Meteorology (equivalent to Environment Canada).

    Both sites provide some great resources for non-scientists to understand climate change, especially important for a country (and continent) already severely affected by anthropogenic climate change.

    http://www.csiro.au/science/Climate-Change.html

    http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/change/

    [Thanks for stopping in, David, it’s great to hear from a scientist in the field. What proxies do you work with in your paleo research?

    I think that most people are well-meaning and understand scientific credibility, they just don’t know where to look for the credible sources. If we can do a better job of making credible sources both easy to understand and widely available, I think we’ll be well on our way. -Kate]

  7. Another great resource out of Australia is http://www.skepticalscience.com

    “So this website gets skeptical about global warming skepticism. Do their arguments have any scientific basis? What does the peer reviewed scientific literature say?”

    I’m trying to collect good sources to include on my own site and I’m afraid I’m not going to put up opposing sites – you might call it confirmation bias but I don’t want my message diluted.

    Skeptical Science is a fantastic resource, I agree. It is one of my most-recommended websites of all time. I didn’t know it was Australian, but the author’s name (Cook) is quite fitting!

    Confirmation bias is the practice of not reading opposing material. It is not the practice of refraining from spreading around material that you know to be inaccurate or misleading. That’s just assessing the credibility and accuracy of your sources.

    Good luck with the website. -Kate

  8. Hi Kate

    My proxies are fossil plants. See the science journal ‘Geology’ January issue. A copy can be accessed on my website (readers can google my name with the word ‘fossil’ and go straight there). I mainly focus on the Eocene epoch, but have also published on other geological time. The Eocene is pertinent to current concerns about climate change as it was a powerful greenhouse time, so some climate modellers test the role of different climate forcings by comparing the climate proxy evidence for Eocene climates against their model output.

  9. At this stage, I can only say Hmmmmmmmm. I am a SKEPTIC. (caps on purpose). I came (and will keep coming back) to your site Kate, because I feel that as a proponent of one side of the discussion, it would be prudent of me to review other sides, read what they have to say, listen to their arguments in support of their positions. Then, and only then, try to rebut in a civil understandable fashion. No strident remarks or stupid comments like “I am smarter than you, cause I went to this institute of higher learning”.
    One of the more important trends that I see, is a move to seperate believers from non-believers (infidels if you will) along political lines. It seems that in order to be a good Liberal or NDPér, a strongly held belief in AGW is a must, and if you are on the right, the reverse has to be true. This worries me as it will directly affect how my tax dollars are spent. (being on the right, I feel strongly that they are being wasted in too many ways. Save that for another forum). I am sure that many of your loyal and faithful readers will agree with me. And many won’t.

    I am afraid that making this a political position will have the sensationalistic stands supported (mostly wrongly) by people trying to get re-elected, and not thinking it through.

    Looking forward to more comments, more of your articles and a brisk and fun debate.

    Til then, then.

    At its heart, climate change is not a political position, it is a field of scientific study – a physical phenomenon. I don’t really see the point of basing our understanding of this issue on what policymakers say, or on the implications for taxes or the economy. We need to look at what scientists are saying – read the journals, follow the reports, immerse ourselves in what the most credible sources say about climate change. Climate change is as much a scientific issue as is relativity or evolution, and we shouldn’t treat it any other way. -Kate

  10. Kate,

    The first blogging buddy I made when I launched my blog last month was a 95-year-old woman who has been writing about conservation for over 35 years and now has her own blog. Now I’m finding inspiration from the other end of the age spectrum, in your blog. Thanks for your passion and your faithfulness to the cause!

    Thank you, Rick. I’m glad you enjoy my blog and I will be sure to check out yours! -Kate

  11. Hi Kate,

    Great site and great effort on your part. Can’t believe that I only stumbled on this now.

    Keep up the excellent work.

  12. I welcome new boggers like winnipegman. Skepticism is healthy and is at the heart of all scientific investigation. I also agree with Kate’s response to that comment, that discussion about AGW shouldn’t be aligned along political lines; people on the right include those who care for the environment (the Canadian Green Party has economic policies that are hardly left-wing, and I have friends who are Conservative voters who care about the environment and who would argue that AGW is real), and not all Liberals and NDPers would put environment (including AGW) at the top of their list of concerns; health care or social justice top their list – and some are AGW skeptics.

    That the AGW discussion has aligned poltically in Canada and the USA (and Australia) says much about the process engaged in by both sides of the discussion. Advocacy groups (i.e., mostly non-scientists, but also some scientists outside of climate research) on both sides of the debate have lobbied particular constituencies hard, causing a hardening of attitudes amongst some. The CPC is half Reform, so has Alberta oil-patch roots, so Harper’s government’s lukewarm response to climate change is not surprising. The Liberals core was southern Ontario, so Canada’s old industrial heartland, perhaps explaining the Chretien-Martin lip-service to AGW measures. Sadly, this advocacy has also resulted in some mudslinging, so I also welcome winnipegman’s promise of civility.

  13. Of the people I meet who have formed an opinion on Global Warming and AGW, I would say that the politicization of the sides does seem to fall very generally along ideological lines. People of a more liberal bent tend to be more receptive to new and innovative ideas while those of a more conservative persuasion tend to prefer to do things the way they do “because that’s the way we’ve always done them.”

    But the majority of the people I meet are mainstream, everyday people who, when pressed for an opinion on AGW & Global Warming, give me a blank stare. The reality, for them, is that they don’t know enough about the subject to care to learn about it.

    As for me, I am a conservative Christian AGW believer, college educated in Earth Science and Remote Sensing, who finds himself constantly reaching across all affiliations to find the few minds still receptive to the truth. And that last is fast becoming few and far between.

    Caught betwixt rampant apathy and raging political invective, few are left with the time and inclination to lend an ear on an issue they find unrelatable.

    For it to otherwise be; night comes swiftly now.

    The Yooper

  14. To Kate, the high school senior and aspiring climatologist from the Canadian Prairies,

    You are simply amazing. Ever think about moving to the United States and becoming one of our Senators? We really need help.

    And to Daniel “The Yooper” Bailey,

    I agree with you up to a point. I think more people understand than you give them credit, but as I told Dr. Roy Spencer, the truth is too much for them to bear, so they frantically grasp at fantasy.

  15. Good to have another forum, well done Kate. As for the matter of politics or ideology, it’s an over-simplification to see things in terms of left and right, or even in terms of capitalist and … ummm … socialist, or whatever. It’s not a football game with just two sides. The capitalist right are poor environmentalists, usually, but so are the hard left Socialists. And neither group are interested in esoterica like climate change. Our local science reporter refers to environmental concern as “middle class hand-wringing”, which is unkind, but there’s just enough truth in it to make it sting. Environmentalism has been able to flourish in a culture where there is enough food to go around and enough education to allow for abstract discussion. And now we have an issue – climate change – which is literally of global importance, but which has the flavour of environmentalism, so the hard men of the left and the right dissmiss it as being either some sort of boffin-led fantasy, or a subtle means to introduce new taxes. I think that climate scientists are going to have to become bolder. The popular media is going to have to see the scientists as champions, and the politicians will need to loudly praise their policy advice.

  16. Hi Kate, Great website. Please could you help me, I am trying to use the word falsifiable and would like to be sure I’m using it right .The following statement was made just over a year ago by a British politician: “The case for anthropogenic global warming was, as far as I can understand, slightly more convincing a decade ago than it is today, with global temperatures having recently dropped.” Ive written some observations on my blog about it but it occurs to me that with 2010 predicted to be joint warmest year ever his understanding of the science would have to be revised. Is this a falsifiable position he has taken?

    In fact, looking at global temperatures in terms of a calendar year can be misleading. The ENSO cycle has a large, short-term impact on global temperatures, but as it happens during the winter, the bulk of its influence can be split between two calendar years or fall completely into one. Take 2008 (La Nina) or 1998 (El Nino) as examples of how ENSO can dramatically impact yearly temps.

    This influence can be minimized if you look at the 12-month running mean. It’s still fairly obvious which years were La Nina and which were El Nino, but the misleading effect of splitting between calendar years or falling completely into one goes away. Here’s an image from the GISS team at NASA, in the bottom right:

    As you can see, although there’s short-term variation, the trend is clearly up. Expecting each year to set a new record for the warmest ever is unreasonable, since the climate system is so noisy. Longer trends, such as 5-year running means (to allow ENSO noise to fade into the background) or 10-year (sunspot cycle), allow the overall change to become even clearer. Both of these running means are depicted in this graph, also from NASA:

    The ranking of specific years is exciting as each calendar year comes to a close, but it really isn’t all that useful.

    See also Skeptical Science’s rebuttal of this common misconception.

    Falsifiable? Yes, and also falsified, many times over.

    I hope that helped. -Kate

  17. I do not believe that a comment is neccessary, the facts as published, speak for themselves. There is a potentially serious problem that is unlikely to reach Chernobyl status judging by the facts and by what the various talking heads have indicated. I would remind you that people have been living in Hiroshima and Nagasaki since both bombs were dropped. While there have been serous effects, it has been shown that they have not been as bad as origionally feared.

    This site may bring some perspective to radiation hazards.

    http://xkcd.com/radiation/

  18. Hi Kate,

    A perspective on some of your stuff. Yes, I’m a skeptic. I have experience in modelling and climate-responsive design, and picked up on your criticism of Fred Singer, especially the bit about the urban heat island effect (UHI).

    “a B.Sc. student and aspiring climatologist from the Canadian Prairies ….”

    Not your fault, but possibly not the best origin for developing an awareness of UHI ?

    The Hadley Centre at UEA wouldn’t be such a good place to notice it either …

    I live at 19.19S 146.68E. A generally a low-density urban region of 180,000 +. It’s low density because (a) there were no particular constraints on space, (b) people soon discovered that high-density living in a tropical maritime/humid environment didn’t work, and (c) rainstorms were infrequent but regular and massive, and there needed to be a large amount of space reserved for stormwater drainage.

    Most people here know about UHI. Very easy to create with just a few buildings in adverse configuration, cooling breezes skimming above the roof line, air-conditioning discharging into unventilated spaces, etc. I wrote some Town Planning codes back in 2002 to try to prevent UHI, backed up by observations and research. The “tipping point” that led to the codes was not so much the research, but numerous complaints by the public, acted on by elected representatives.

    I’ve downloaded the Station files. Maybe I’ll find time to do a bit of analysis ….

    http://people.aapt.net.au/jclark19/

    • Fortunately, we now have the BEST study that puts to rest, pretty definitively, the myth that UHI is in any way a meaningful component of global warming. It’s equally delicious that it was funded by known AGW deniers, and even THEN, the researchers landed up at the position that UHI is a non-starter as the proximate cause of increased global temperatures.

  19. Hello. I just found this site. Wow!

    I would like to know why the video regarding the Oregon Petition was “withdrawn by the user” and if it is still available somewhere on the net.

    Thanks.

    Greg Shea (Lake Cowichan)

  20. Just a SWAG here: given the Oregon Petition has been shown to be, at best disingenuous and at worst, a misinformative travesty, would seem to be the reason it was taken off. It’s utterly irrelevant to the rational, science-based topic at hand.

    • Hi pedantry, thanks for the kind words. I am finishing up the last term in my undergrad and am currently up to my ears in my honours thesis. I should finally have time to blog again within a few weeks!

  21. Seen at climate march:
    -It’s not nice to foul mother nature!
    -Up is down. Near is far. Coal is clean …and so is tar??!
    – With two cute polar bear cubs: Get your Big government paws off my teddy bear (protesting government tax breaks and subsidies for dirty fuel)
    -Things go deader with Koch

  22. May 12, 2016:
    The Arctic has been over temperature for ~ 135 straight days. Of those days, 100 straight days were no less than 3degC over average, with numerous days over 10degC. over average. Another time the Arctic was over temperature for 140 days, with temperatures as high as 16degC over normal. No period in the last 58 years can show “balancing temperatures” even 1degC below average temperatures for even half those number of days.

    …. compared to the 1980’s with less AGW excess energy effect in the biosphere:
    Present Arctic sea ice extent is Alaska+ sized in total sea ice losses(1.82+ million KM2). Like 2015, the 2016 Arctic sea waters have set themselves up to absorb much excess AGW predicted solar energy, while the sun is at its approaching maximum elevation in the sky(now 6arcdeg from highest). Any downwellings in those clear Alaskan plus sized waters, will transport excess AGW solar absorbed energy directly downward to Arctic continental shelves or into deeper Arctic waters, for storage…. energies that had not been available previously to the Earth. It has also been determined that excess solar energy can be absorbed through thin AGW generated ice when the sun is at its highest elevations in the Arctic….even more energy stored in Arctic waters.
    ////////
    For 9+ years the solar TSI has been well below average(including a 3+ year low period breaking a 100 year record). For many years, toxic AGW denier liar whiners have declared an ice age.
    But Earth has not returned to early 20th century low temperatures. For 373+ months Earth temperatures have been over the 20th century average. The first decade of the 21st century has been the hottest recorded decade, also including the 20th & 19th century recorded temperatures. The last five years have been the hottest 5 year recorded period, including the 21st, 20th, & 19th centuries. 2014 & 2015 has been the hottest recorded successive years, including the 21st, 20th, & 19th centuries. The last 12 straight months has set record highs for all those months. All this, while solar TSI is low, which science says is only a blip low. For billions of years, the sun has continued to warm & will continue to warm.

    Further data:
    Between 1979 & 2000, only one year had ANY daily Arctic sea ice AS low as the same date sea ice of ALL of the year 2015 AND to date 2016. And those DAYS were only two or three consecutive of that year.

    Indeed, not even Arctic sea ice days, which can be high or low, can bridge the break between the Arctic of the old & the unstable Arctic of the new.

    Average Arctic sea ice VOLUME for May 1, for the period 1980-89, was ~30,800 cubic kilometers. April 1, 2016 Arctic sea ice VOLUME is ~22,150 cubic kilometers, ~ 8650 cubic kilometers LESS than the 1980-89 average for April 1.
    On January 1, average Arctic sea ice extent for the 1980’s was 14.52 million KM2. Like 2015, 2016 Arctic sea ice did not reach 14 million square kilometers. Indeed, 3 months of Arctic sea ice freezing has disappeared!!

    • Further data:
      The final tally of straight days of over average High Arctic temperatures ended at 150+ days, as summer & direct solar energy illuminated the High Arctic. As fall began & direct solar radiation stopped on the High Arctic, almost 4 million square kilometers began over-average temperatures. Presently, 125+ straight days have registered over temperatures. During this period, temperatures hit 20degC over average, then reduced & later hit 16degC over average. After the stunning over temperatures, I began calling these periods of over-temperatures, the High Arctic Berserker. This…. HAB is presently 10degC over temperature, with good expectations to go to 150+ days over temperature. I would not consider it impossible if over temperature High Arctic conditions stretched to 200 straight days. Indeed, these conditions of over average High Arctic temperatures during periods of little to no direct solar radiation are becoming the norm. The surprise is when High Arctic temperatures ARE AVERAGE.

    • Update for Arctic sea ice VOLUME: Average Arctic sea ice VOLUME for January 1, for the period 1980-89, was ~23,300 cubic kilometers. January 1, 2017 Arctic sea ice VOLUME is ~ 13,100 cubic kilometers, ~ 10,200 cubic kilometers LESS than the 1980-89 average for April 1.

  23. Hi Kaitlin.
    I’m trying install and run the modelE, but I have many problems for start.
    Could you help me? Do you have a guide for the instalation more clear which the user page of NOAA?

    I appreciate any help, thanks. Regards since Mexico.

  24. for a few days in November the Arctic ice cover shrank to a level that was 2million kmsq less than the 1981-2010 average and 1M less than the lowest ever recorded coincident with Antarctic Ice reaching record low levels Canadian Prairie Lake Winnipeg still has not frozen anywhere although models predicted it would not reach this date unfrozen til after 2050. Orcas are swimming near churchill Mb in Hudsons Bay and eating Beluga Whales and Polar Bears.
    Litesong the wolves really are at the door and apparently some are already through it.

  25. https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=7065&utm_source=iContact&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=NASAJPL&utm_content=weekly20180223-3

    “The computer-vision technique crunched data from hundreds of thousands of NASA-U.S. Geological Survey Landsat satellite images to produce a high-precision picture of changes in ice-sheet motion.”

    It will be interesting to see how well your computer-based models correlate with these satellite observations. This computer-generated image gives me a clearer understanding of the challenges you’ve been facing over the past years and will be facing in the future.

    I hope your computer-based models will be able to extend this image far into the future.

    Good luck this week, Dr. Naughten!

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