J. Christine Chiu
Dr Chiu has worked extensively on retrievals of cloud properties that are the prime determinant of the energy budget, but are poorly predicted by climate models. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and many published papers, a lack of knowledge of cloud properties is one of the most important barriers preventing more accurate predictions of climate change. The huge range of predictions of future climate warming is a direct result of ignorance of how to represent clouds in climate models. Cloud theory has been of little help, especially in predicting optical properties; only a dramatic increase in both the number and accuracy of cloud observations can overcome the barrier.
The main problem in retrieving cloud optical depth is that clouds are complicated 3D objects that evolve fast; measurement methods that hope to catch clouds must be similarly fast and sophisticated. Dr Chiu has approached this problem using both simple passive radiometers and active laser beams, and is working toward blending observational elements, numerical simulation and model evaluation.