Meet the Director


Carol Anne Clayson

Since its founding in 2000, the Ocean and Climate Change Institute has steadily gained a comprehensive understanding of the ocean’s effects on the climate. Today we continue to close the information gap by aggressively developing new instrumentation that will make it possible to routinely measure some key climate variables in some of the most remote and hostile locations of the ocean. Scientists have made significant progress in deciphering the patterns of climate change variability, El Nino and its far-reaching effects being an excellent example.   Yet we still have significant progress to make to better understand the many connections between the oceans, atmosphere and ice sheets that affect climate and sea level.  Our goal is to target specific geographic regions for fieldwork and analysis that will significantly enhance our observations and understanding of the complexities of the climate system.

Better models of the ocean will be critical in understanding ocean circulation and its future effects on climate and we are actively engaged in this pursuit. The quality of these improved models can be evaluated using geological reconstructions of ocean circulation during past climates when conditions were very different from today.  In that way we can assess the model reliability, as we attempt to use them to predict future states of ocean circulation and climate. Improved models can also better assess ambiguities in the proxy reconstructions, and lead to a better understanding of regional climate variability, past and present.

The Ocean and Climate Change Institute can best make progress by taking an approach that focuses on the value-added science and engineering that WHOI does best.  Securing funds from non-federal sources can significantly improve our ability to sustain key oceanic climate time series in the presence of a risk-adverse, time-dependent federal funding arena.  The Institute has selected a few key themes and is working to make substantial contributions to knowledge in these areas through innovative research and sustained measurement programs. Capitalizing on our strong educational culture, the Institute aims to be a magnet for highly qualified graduate and post-graduate researchers and a catalyst for mentoring the next generation of climate scientists.

Carol Anne Clayson is a Senior Scientist in the Department of Physical Oceanography at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). She has been tenured faculty at Florida State University and Purdue University, and while at FSU was the Director of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Institute as well as receiving a Developing Scholar Award. Her research covers the areas of air-sea interaction, satellite remote sensing, and ocean modeling, and she has received funding for her research from NASA, NOAA, the Office of Naval Research, and NSF. She is the recipient of an NSF CAREER award and the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award. She received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from President W. Clinton. Dr. Clayson is the author or co-author of over 45 journal articles, two books on air-sea boundary layers and numerical ocean modeling, two book chapters, and three National Research Council reports, as well as holding one patent. She has served on multiple committees for the American Meteorological Society and the National Research Council, including the Board on Atmospheric Science and Climate. She has been a lead reviewer of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program Synthesis and Assessment Product. She currently serves on a number of national and international panels, including as chair of the World Climate Research Program GEWEX SeaFlux project, an international group of scientists working on improved estimations of air-sea turbulent heat fluxes from satellite. She is the inaugural leader of the WCRP Flux Task Team, and is currently a member of the CLIVAR Phenomena, Observation, and Synthesis Panel. She has served on the NASA Science Review team, as well as on the NASA Decadal Survey, in addition to currently serving on several NASA Science Teams. She also sits on external advisory boards for the University of Colorado Aerospace Engineering Sciences Department and the Los Alamos Laboratory Institute of Geophysical and Planetary Physics. Her current areas of research include understanding how air-sea interactions affect the climate scale, how the global water cycle is varying, and how the ocean responds to processes such as tropical cyclones. She is also involved in outreach activities particularly affecting relationships between corporations and the climate science community, and recently authored a response to the recent EPA ruling on performance standards highlighting the role of the ocean in climate science. Dr. Clayson received her B. S. degree in Physics and Astronomy from Brigham Young University in 1988, and her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Aerospace Engineering Sciences and the Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 1990 and 1995.