• Atmospheric Chemistry
  • Atmospheric Physics
  • Physical + Chemical Oceanography
  • Glaciology
  • Past Climates
  • Carbon Cycling
  • General Circulation
  • Climate System Modeling

Questions That Drive Us

What caused Earth’s past climate shifts, and what is our climate’s natural variability? How do climates evolve on other planets? Does airborne particulate matter affect cloud formation? What role do the oceans play in regulating Earth’s temperature? What about the oceans’ role in the carbon cycle? Can microbes influence the atmosphere? Does rapid climate change contribute to mass extinctions?

The Work We Do

Continuing to advance our understanding of climate systems is one of the great intellectual challenges — and responsibilities — of our time. Warming temperatures, shifts in weather patterns and extremes, and rising sea levels indicate Earth could be approaching a tipping point, with potential economic and humanitarian implications—including destruction of property and infrastructure, disruptions in trade, relocation of communities, and food insecurity. Fundamental climate research plays a pivotal role in providing actionable data to expedite practical solutions, technological innovations, and policy measures aimed at mitigating the impacts of climate change.

We bring together atmospheric scientists, oceanographers, microbiologists, geologists, planetary scientists, and experts in scientific computing and machine learning to understand the elaborate, interconnected natural systems which combine to produce and influence our climate. With tools like the MIT Global Circulation Model and inter-institution collaborations like the Climate Modeling Alliance (CliMA), our scientists are building next-generation tools to simulate the climate system in 3-D, and at unprecedented fine resolutions, incorporating rafts of historical observations to render the dynamic processes of the oceans and atmosphere with greater and greater accuracy. And delving into the evolution of Earth’s ancient climate, and the extremes of planetary climates beyond our own, can help us put Earth’s current environmental crossroads into focus, providing clues to guide us toward long-term sustainability.