Mike Madden

Graduate Student | Department of Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences | NC State University

2018-19 Global Change Fellow

Statement of purpose:

After earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in atmospheric science, and teaching college physics as an adjunct instructor, I am now pursuing a Ph.D. The scientific literature related to climate change made it clear to me that humanity was altering the environment in significant ways, and that in turn would pose great challenges to our livelihoods. This realization caused me to adopt a sense of duty to my friends, family, neighbors, and fellow citizens, and thus, I decided to pursue a career in atmospheric science. I felt the need to educate myself, lead others to evidence-based understanding, and engage the public.
Participating in the Global Change Fellows Program will be key to allowing me to network with inspiring leaders, discover new perspectives, and strengthen my abilities to connect to policymakers, students, and the public at-large. I envision my future self as a professor, with experience in the governmental sector, and the Global Change Fellows Program will instill in me the professional development needed for that track. Simply put, I want to place myself in the position where I can do the most for many – helping people understand what climate change is and what it would mean for them, assisting efforts to counter its harmful effects, and protecting the vulnerable. Those actions, which I believe are morally imperative, are worth the effort and training. After I complete this program, I’ll finish my Ph.D. thesis, defend, and pursue those goals.

Description of research:

I love rain. To me, a rainy day is a joyful day – except when there’s too much rain, and too much of a good thing is troublesome, or downright dangerous. Extreme and/or persistent rainfall can trigger floods that destroy our infrastructure and property, harm ecosystems, and cause heartbreak for the families and friends of those who lose their lives from such events. Additionally, higher temperatures in future decades could intensify storms and thus exacerbate damages. To adequately prepare for these extreme events, and to anticipate changes for the decades ahead, it is vital to assure that the features of these storms, and of the land below, are properly represented and resolved in our numerical models. Thus, my research addresses the following questions. 1) Are weather and climate models up to the task of simulating these events realistically? 2) If not, what can be improved? 3) And how will conditions in later decades (higher temperatures, water vapor concentrations, sea-surface temperatures, and future land-use) affect the characteristics of these storms? This research incorporates aspects and concerns from science themes 1, 2, and 3.

View a video developed by Mike describing his research as a Global Change Fellow: