Kate Marvel

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Kate Marvel
Alma materCambridge University University of California, Berkeley
Scientific career
FieldsClimate science

Climate modeling

Science communication
InstitutionsColumbia University, Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Carnegie Institution for Science

Kate Marvel is a climate scientist and science writer based in New York City. She is an Associate Research Scientist at NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia Engineering's Department of Applied Physics and Mathematics, and writes regularly for Scientific American in her column "Hot Planet."[1]

Education and early career[edit]

Marvel attended the University of California at Berkeley, where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in physics and astronomy in 2003. She received her PhD in 2008 in theoretical physics from University of Cambridge as a Gates Scholar and member of Trinity College. Following her PhD, she shifted her focus to climate science and energy as a Postdoctoral Science Fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University and at the Carnegie Institution for Science in the Department of Global Ecology.[2][3] She continued that trajectory as a postdoctoral fellow at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory before joining the research faculty at NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University.[4][5]


Marvel's current research centers on climate modeling to better predict how much the Earth's temperature will rise rise in the future.[6][7][8] This work led Marvel to investigate the effects of cloud cover on modeling rising temperatures, which has proved an important variable in climate models.[9][10] Clouds can play a double-edged role in mitigating or amplifying the rate of global warming. On one hand, clouds reflect solar energy back into space, serving to cool the planet; on the other, clouds can trap the planet's heat and radiate back onto Earth's surface. While computer models have difficulty simulating the changing patterns of cloud cover, improved satellite data can begin to fill in the gaps.[11][12]

Marvel has also studied practical limitations in renewable energy as a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Carnegie Institution for Science.[3][13] At the 2017 TED conference, following computer theorist Danny Hillis's talk proposing geoengineering strategies to mitigate global warming, Marvel was brought on stage to share why she believes geoengineering may cause more harm than good in the long run.[14]

Public engagement[edit]

Marvel is a science communicator whose efforts center on communicating about the impacts of climate change. She has been a guest on popular science shows like StarTalk and BRIC Arts Media TV, speaking about her expertise in climate change and the need to act on climate.[15][16] She has also spoken about her path to becoming a scientist for the science-inspired storytelling series, The Story Collider.[17] Marvel has also appeared on the TED Main Stage, giving a talk at the 2017 TED conference about the double-edged effect clouds can have on global warming.[18]

Marvel's writing has been featured in On Being and Nautilus. She is a regular contributor to Scientific American with her column "Hot Planet".[19][20][21] The column launched in June 2018 and focuses on climate change, covering the science behind global warming, policies, and human efforts in advocacy.


  1. ^ "Kate Marvel - Google Scholar Citations". scholar.google.com. Retrieved 2018-07-03.
  2. ^ "FSI | CISAC - Katherine D. Marvel". cisac.fsi.stanford.edu. Retrieved 2018-06-28.
  3. ^ a b Marvel, Kate; Kravitz, Ben; Caldeira, Ken (2012-09-09). "Geophysical limits to global wind power". Nature Climate Change. 3 (2): 118–121. Bibcode:2013NatCC...3..118M. doi:10.1038/nclimate1683. ISSN 1758-678X.
  4. ^ "LLNL scientists find precipitation, global warming link". Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. 2013-11-11. Retrieved 2018-06-30.
  5. ^ "Scientist Kate Marvel Provides Some Answers on Climate Change and Sustainability". Columbia News. 2017-11-13. Retrieved 2018-06-28.
  6. ^ Marvel, Kate; Pincus, Robert; Schmidt, Gavin A.; Miller, Ron L. (2018-02-15). "Internal Variability and Disequilibrium Confound Estimates of Climate Sensitivity From Observations". Geophysical Research Letters. 45 (3): 1595–1601. Bibcode:2018GeoRL..45.1595M. doi:10.1002/2017gl076468. ISSN 0094-8276.
  7. ^ Caldwell, Peter M.; Zelinka, Mark D.; Taylor, Karl E.; Marvel, Kate (January 2016). "Quantifying the Sources of Intermodel Spread in Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity". Journal of Climate. 29 (2): 513–524. Bibcode:2016JCli...29..513C. doi:10.1175/jcli-d-15-0352.1. ISSN 0894-8755.
  8. ^ Schmidt, Gavin A.; Severinghaus, Jeff; Abe-Ouchi, Ayako; Alley, Richard B.; Broecker, Wallace; Brook, Ed; Etheridge, David; Kawamura, Kenji; Keeling, Ralph F. (2017-07-12). "Overestimate of committed warming". Nature. 547 (7662): E16–E17. Bibcode:2017Natur.547E..16S. doi:10.1038/nature22803. ISSN 0028-0836.
  9. ^ "Silver linings: the climate scientist who records cloud behaviour". the Guardian. 2017-08-18. Retrieved 2018-06-30.
  10. ^ Marvel, Kate; Zelinka, Mark; Klein, Stephen A.; Bonfils, Céline; Caldwell, Peter; Doutriaux, Charles; Santer, Benjamin D.; Taylor, Karl E. (June 2015). "External Influences on Modeled and Observed Cloud Trends". Journal of Climate. 28 (12): 4820–4840. Bibcode:2015JCli...28.4820M. doi:10.1175/jcli-d-14-00734.1. ISSN 0894-8755.
  11. ^ Marvel, Kate (2017). "The Cloud Conundrum". Scientific American. 312: 72–77. Bibcode:2017SciAm.317f..72M. doi:10.1038/scientificamerican1217-72.
  12. ^ "The Effect of Clouds on Climate: A Key Mystery for Researchers - Yale E360". e360.yale.edu. Retrieved 2018-06-30.
  13. ^ "Random matrix theory models of electric grid topology". Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications. 389 (24): 5838–5851. 2010-12-15. Bibcode:2010PhyA..389.5838M. doi:10.1016/j.physa.2010.08.009. ISSN 0378-4371.
  14. ^ "'You terrify me': TED speakers duke it out over a plan to release massive amounts of chalk into the atmosphere". Business Insider. Retrieved 2018-06-30.
  15. ^ "SEASON PREMIERE: Our Changing Climate, with Bill Nye - StarTalk All-Stars". StarTalk Radio Show by Neil deGrasse Tyson. Retrieved 2018-06-28.
  16. ^ BRIC TV (2018-05-03), Climate Change is Real With Dr. Kate Marvel and the Brooklyn Bridal Business | 112BK, retrieved 2018-06-30
  17. ^ "Origin Stories: Stories about paths to becoming a scientist". The Story Collider. Retrieved 2018-06-30.
  18. ^ Marvel, Kate, Can clouds buy us more time to solve climate change?, retrieved 2018-06-30
  19. ^ "We Need Courage, Not Hope, To Face Climate Change". The On Being Project. Retrieved 2018-06-30.
  20. ^ Marvel, Kate. "The Parallel Universes of a Woman in Science". Nautilus.
  21. ^ Marvel, Kate. "Welcome to Scientific American 's New Climate Science Column". Scientific American Blog Network. Retrieved 2018-06-28.