Nature magazine published a column in 2015 titled, “Physicists, your planet needs you” – a call from prominent climatologists to physicists to help solve some of nature’s mysteries that are crucial to modeling the climate.
Our speaker this Wednesday, John Bradley Marston of Brown University, a distinguished condensed matter physicist (and a prolific, long-distance hiker), will speak about the fascinating connection he has unraveled between aspects of broken symmetry, condensed matter physics and climate science.
Symmetry and topology not only play central roles in our understanding of physics, in general, they play surprising roles in understanding Earth’s climate system, according to Marston. The symmetry-breaking nature of Earth’s rotation gives rise to the equatorially trapped oceanic and atmospheric waves that contribute to El Niño. The understanding of their topological properties sheds new light on the Earth’s climate system. The findings might also prove useful in understanding a wide variety of geophysical and astrophysical flows.
Marston’s colloquium, “El Niño as a Topological Insulator: A Surprising Connection Between Climate, and Quantum Physics,” is scheduled for 4 p.m. in One West, Wednesday, April 24.
Pushpa Bhat is a senior scientist in the Particle Physics Division and the Directorate and a member of the Fermilab Colloquium Committee, which organizes the Colloquium series.