Dr. Jennifer Francis previously spent 24 years as a Research Professor in the Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University in New Jersey, where she studied the Arctic climate system and how rapid Arctic change is affecting areas beyond the Arctic, particularly extreme weather in the northern hemisphere. She is regularly interviewed for radio and TV news programs, and is often quoted in major media outlets. She testified to the U.S. House of Representatives Science Committee in 2019 and to the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works in 2013. She has taught courses in satellite remote sensing and climate-change issues, and also co-founded and co-directed the Rutgers Climate and Environmental Change Initiative. Dr. Francis earned a B.S. in Meteorology from San Jose State University and a Ph.D. in Atmospheric Sciences from the University of Washington. Her research is focused on the rapidly changing Arctic: why it’s happening, how changes are affecting the Arctic system, and how disproportionate warming there is affecting temperate regions on Earth, where billions of people live.
Her early papers address the Arctic itself. She used new information derived from satellite data to better understand how energy and moisture flow between the atmosphere, surface, and regions south of the Arctic. This work led to studies of the various causes of sea-ice variability and loss — such as changes in clouds, water vapor, energy transport, radiation, and winds — which ultimately are responding to increasing greenhouse gases owing primarily to burning of fossil fuels.
Recently she has been researching connections between rapid Arctic warming (aka Arctic amplification, AA) and weather patterns in mid-latitudes. Shevhypothesizes that AA will lead to more persistent weather regimes, such as the recent multi-year drought in California followed in 2016/17 by record-breaking precipitation. These Arctic/mid-latitude connections are complicated and difficult to pin down convincingly, however, and she is collaborating with an ever-growing number of colleagues to investigate this exciting and important aspect of changing climate.
She has also devoted more of her time in recent years to becoming a more effective science communicator. She wants to help non-scientists gain a deeper understanding of why the climate is changing and how it already is and will continue to affect each and every one of us in profound ways