Climate Change Research Lab
Seung-Ki Min (Division of Environmental Science and Engineering)
The 2018 heat wave in Korea proved to be the most virulent in the nation’s history of meteorological observations. Seoul’s highest temperature reached 39.5 ℃, and Hongcheon in Gangwon Province posted 41℃ which is the all-time historical high for the county. Later in 2020, Korea experienced its longest-ever monsoon season, lasting 54 days, which gave rise to a number of landslides. These extreme weather fluctuations are not confined to the Korean Peninsula alone. Such abnormal weather events, which continue with growing intensity due to anthropogenic global warming, continue to wreak havoc on the entire earth..
The Climate Change Research Laboratory headed by professor Seung-Ki Min at the Division of Environmental Science and Engineering, POSTECH, is searching for fingerprints of global warming within and around unusual climate events. Researchers are identifying how global warming has impacted such weather anomalies as heat waves, typhoons, and heavy rainfall that take a devastating toll on human life. Identifying causes enables a much more accurate prediction for the trajectory of extreme weather events and helps better prepare for them as the climate continues to change.
Lab researchers primarily use simulations performed through state-of-the-art climate modeling technology. Analyzing abnormal local weather conditions that occur within a short time span requires such technology to probe into any region of the world within the range of several dozens of kilometers. Leveraging the supercomputing capability of the Korea Meteorological Administration and in cooperation with the Oxford University of the UK, the research team takes a detailed look at the Korean Peninsula from the 2.5km unit level and conducts intensive analyses. With this degree of resolution, the Lab is capable of revealing the connection between hourly precipitation and climate change.
The Lab is systematically disclosing the previously hidden links between climate extremes and global warming. In 2016, researchers at the Lab reported in the internationally-renowned journal ‘Science Advances’ the first scientific evidence for a link between human impact and the gradual expansion of the Warm Pool, vast mass of tropical warm water, where typhoons are generated. Its article featured in the ‘Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society’ in 2019 demonstrated the impact that global warming had on the increasingly prolonged duration of the heat waves affecting the Korean Peninsula and pointed out that the probability of such events occurring has risen 4 fold. In May 2020, the research team identified how temperature drops after explosive volcanic eruptions reduce global precipitation in the ‘Science Advances’, warning the possible side effect of ‘geoengineering’ techniques.
The Climate Change Research Laboratory compares its endeavors to discover the patterns and causes of climate change out of the vast climate big data to a ‘treasure hunt’. Researchers believe that their journey to identify the causes behind climate change will lead them to the ‘treasure’ of accurate information, and it is this information that will enable them to prepare for the damages caused by the seemingly unstoppable threat of global warming. Recently, the Lab has been focusing on abnormal weather events that have occurred in succession of one another, such as a long rainy season followed immediately by typhoons. Researchers hope that rather than studying such events as isolated incidents, taking a comprehensive view of how all the moving parts relate will ultimately allow them to solve the complex puzzle of the global climate phenomenon.
Head of Lab
Jigok Research Building 212