NASA MPOWIR Speaker Series
JPL visit November 10-11, 2009

Stephanie Downes, Princeton University

I was recently fortunate to receive the opportunity to speak at JPL/NASA in Pasadena, California, hosted by the Ocean-Atmosphere Interaction group supervisor, Dr. Victor Zlotnicki. I visited the site for 2 days, and on the second day gave a talk on changes in the subduction of Southern Ocean water masses as projected by IPCC models. My presentation was well received by the group, and was followed by discussion questions regarding our confidence in climate models and the impacts of changes in the Southern Ocean circulation.

The remainder of the visit comprised of brief one-on-one discussions with members of the JPL ocean community, giving me an introduction to the diverse research currently applied at JPL. Some of the postdocs in Victor’s group are correlating the variability in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current with ocean bottom pressure results from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) and Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean (ECCO). The higher resolution ocean-ice models of ECCO Phase II are being used to address issues like eddy circulation, heat and freshwater transport, sea level rise and water mass formation.

In addition to the scientific information received, I got an idea of the types of jobs held at JPL by both research staff and postdocs. During my visit, my host informed me that they were recently seeking a marine biologist with satellite data experience, but only males applied for the job. The females on the hiring committee enquired why there were no female applicants, even though there clearly exists female marine biologists! It was a good example of how the female job networking is poor (compared with male networking), and that there is a need for groups like MPOWIR among the female scientific research community.

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