Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences

Jennifer Kay

Jennifer Kay

Research Interests

Jen Kay is an assistant professor in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences and a Fellow of CIRES at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She remains a visiting scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, where she worked prior to joining CU Boulder. Dr. Kay researches polar climate change, feedbacks, and variability, with a specific focus on connecting global coupled climate modeling with observed cloud, precipitation, and sea ice processes. She works at the nexus of observations and modeling to understand the processes controlling climate change and variability.

Current Research

Going Global: The influence of clouds on large-scale climate dynamics

We primarily work in polar regions, though lately we have been going global! Together with collaborators at Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique (Helene Chepfer) and McGill University (Line Bourdages), our 2016 JGR-Atmospheres paper evaluates cloud phase in the atmospheric component of a global coupled climate model using spaceborne lidar observations. Our scale-aware and definition-aware comparisons enabled us to motivate improvements to the model clouds, and to “fix” two long-standing model biases: excessive absorption of shortwave radiation over the Southern Ocean and insufficient absorption of shortwave radiation over the Tropics. Our 2016 J. Climate paper evaluates the impacts of these improvements on the mean state climate, while our 2017 Climate Dynamics paper led by ATOC Ph.D. candidate Bill Frey evaluates impacts in climate change experiments. ATOC Ph.D. candidate Ariel Morrison uses spaceborne lidar to measure the observed cloud response to Arctic sea ice loss. ATOC Ph.D. candidate Vineel Yettella recently published a Climate Dynamics on precipitation changes in extratropical cyclones in a warming world, and is now developing and applying a framework for decomposing climate predictability into components and the teleconnections between them. 

Definition-aware and scale-aware evaluation of cloud phase in the Community Atmosphere Model (CAM5) using spaceborne lidar observations (CALIPSO).  Figure from Kay et al. 2016 JGR Atmospheres.

Honors and Awards

  • American Meteorological Society Henry G. Houghton Award, 2017
  • NSF CAREER Award, 2016
  • CESM Distinguished Achievement Award, 2016

View Publications

  • Jahn, A, JE Kay, MM Holland and DM Hall (2016), How predictable is the timing of a summer ice-free Arctic?. Geophys. Res. Lett. Version: 1 43 (17) 9113-9120, issn: 0094-8276, ids: DY8CX, doi: 10.1002/2016GL070067
  • Kay, JE, L Bourdages, NB Miller, A Morrison, V Yettella, H Chepfer and B Eaton (2016), Evaluating and improving cloud phase in the Community Atmosphere Model version 5 using spaceborne lidar observations. J. Geophys. Res.-Atmos. Version: 1 121 (8) 4162-4176, issn: 2169-897X, ids: DP2KU, doi: 10.1002/2015JD024699
  • Barnhart, KR, CR Miller, I Overeem and JE Kay (2016), Mapping the future expansion of Arctic open water. Nat. Clim. Chang. Version: 1 6 (3) 280-285, issn: 1758-678X, ids: DE9NG, doi: 10.1038/NCLIMATE2848
  • Kay, JE, C Wall, V Yettella, B Medeiros, C Hannay, P Caldwell and C Bitz (2016), Global Climate Impacts of Fixing the Southern Ocean Shortwave Radiation Bias in the Community Earth System Model (CESM). J. Clim. Version: 1 29 (12) 4617-4636, issn: 0894-8755, ids: DO5AT, doi: 10.1175/JCLI-D-15-0358.1
  • Favier, V., D. Verfaillie, E. Berthier, M. Menegoz, V. Jomelli, J. E. Kay, L. Ducret, Y. Malbeteau, D. Brunstein, H. Gallee, Y. -H. Park and V. Rinterknecht (2016), Atmospheric drying as the main driver of dramatic glacier wastage in the southern Indian Ocean. Version: 1 SCIENTIFIC REPORTS 6 , Art. No. 32396, issn: 2045-2322, doi: 10.1038/srep32396, PubMed ID: 27580801
  • Kay, JE, C Deser, A Phillips, A Mai, C Hannay, G Strand, JM Arblaster, SC Bates, G Danabasoglu, J Edwards, M Holland, P Kushner, JF Lamarque, D Lawrence, K Lindsay, A Middleton, E Munoz, R Neale, K Oleson, L Polvani and M Vertenstein (2015), THE COMMUNITY EARTH SYSTEM MODEL (CESM) LARGE ENSEMBLE PROJECT A Community Resource for Studying Climate Change in the Presence of Internal Climate Variability. Bull. Amer. Meteorol. Soc. Version: 1 96 (8) 1333-1349, issn: 0003-0007, ids: CR5FN, doi: 10.1175/BAMS-D-13-00255.1
  • Sand, M., T. K. Berntsen, J. E. Kay, J. F. Lamarque, O. Seland and A. Kirkevag (2013), The Arctic response to remote and local forcing of black carbon. Atmos. Chem. Phys. Version: 1 13 (1) 211-224, ids: 1680-7316, doi: 10.5194/acp-13-211-2013
  • Gettelman, A., J. E. Kay and J. T. Fasullo (2013), Spatial Decomposition of Climate Feedbacks in the Community Earth System Model. J. Climate Version: 1 26 (11) 3544-3561, ids: 0894-8755, doi: 10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00497.1
  • Brady, Esther C., Bette L. Otto-Bliesner, Jennifer E. Kay and Nan Rosenbloom (2013), Sensitivity to Glacial Forcing in the CCSM4. J. Climate Version: 1 26 (6) 1901-1925, ids: 0894-8755, doi: 10.1175/JCLI-D-11-00416.1
  • Gettelman, A., J. E. Kay and K. M. Shell (2012), The Evolution of Climate Sensitivity and Climate Feedbacks in the Community Atmosphere Model. J. Climate Version: 1 25 (5) 1453-1469, ids: 0894-8755, doi: 10.1175/JCLI-D-11-00197.1
  • Bromwich, David H., Julien P. Nicolas, Keith M. Hines, Jennifer E. Kay, Erica L. Key, Matthew A. Lazzara, Dan Lubin, Greg M. McFarquhar, Irina V. Gorodetskaya, Daniel P. Grosvenor, Thomas Lachlan-Cope and Nicole P. M. van Lipzig (2012), TROPOSPHERIC CLOUDS IN ANTARCTICA. Rev. Geophys. Version: 1 50 , Art. No. RG1004, ids: 8755-1209, doi: 10.1029/2011RG000363
  • Stroeve, JC, MC Serreze, MM Holland, JE Kay, J Malanik and AP Barrett (2012), The Arctic's rapidly shrinking sea ice cover: a research synthesis. Clim. Change Version: 1 110 (4-Mar) 1005-1027, issn: 0165-0009, ids: 879QM, doi: 10.1007/s10584-011-0101-1
  • Jahn, A, K Sterling, MM Holland, JE Kay, JA Maslanik, CM Bitz, DA Bailey, J Stroeve, EC Hunke, WH Lipscomb and DA Pollak (2012), Late-Twentieth-Century Simulation of Arctic Sea Ice and Ocean Properties in the CCSM4. J. Clim. Version: 1 25 (5) 1431-1452, issn: 0894-8755, ids: 905ZR, doi: 10.1175/JCLI-D-11-00201.1
  • Jochum, Markus, Alexandra Jahn, Synte Peacock, David A. Bailey, John T. Fasullo, Jennifer Kay, Samuel Levis and Bette Otto-Bliesner (2012), True to Milankovitch: Glacial Inception in the New Community Climate System Model. J. Climate Version: 1 25 (7) 2226-2239, ids: 0894-8755, doi: 10.1175/JCLI-D-11-00044.1
  • de Boer, G, W Chapman, JE Kay, B Medeiros, MD Shupe, S Vavrus and J Walsh (2012), A Characterization of the Present-Day Arctic Atmosphere in CCSM4. J. Clim. Version: 1 25 (8) 2676-2695, issn: 0894-8755, ids: 925UN, doi: 10.1175/JCLI-D-11-00228.1
  • Kay, JE, BR Hillman, SA Klein, Y Zhang, B Medeiros, R Pincus, A Gettelman, B Eaton, J Boyle, R Marchand and TP Ackerman (2012), Exposing Global Cloud Biases in the Community Atmosphere Model (CAM) Using Satellite Observations and Their Corresponding Instrument Simulators. J. Climate Version: 1 25 (15) 5190-5207, issn: 0894-8755, ids: 983AT, doi: 10.1175/JCLI-D-11-00469.1
  • Kay, Jennifer E., Marika M. Holland, Cecilia M. Bitz, Edward Blanchard-Wrigglesworth, Andrew Gettelman, Andrew Conley and David Bailey (2012), The Influence of Local Feedbacks and Northward Heat Transport on the Equilibrium Arctic Climate Response to Increased Greenhouse Gas Forcing. J. Climate Version: 1 25 (16) 5433-5450, ids: 0894-8755, doi: 10.1175/JCLI-D-11-00622.1
  • Raeder, K, JL Anderson, N Collins, TJ Hoar, JE Kay, PH Lauritzen and R Pincus (2012), DART/CAM: An Ensemble Data Assimilation System for CESM Atmospheric Models. J. Climate Version: 1 25 (18) 6304-6317, issn: 0894-8755, ids: 009PP, doi: 10.1175/JCLI-D-11-00395.1
  • Cesana, G, JE Kay, H Chepfer, JM English and G de Boer (2012), Ubiquitous low-level liquid-containing Arctic clouds: New observations and climate model constraints from CALIPSO-GOCCP. Geophys. Res. Lett. Version: 1 39 , Art. No. L20804, issn: 0094-8276, ids: 024AH, doi: 10.1029/2012GL053385
  • Medeiros, Brian, Clara Deser, Robert A. Tomas and Jennifer E. Kay (2011), Arctic Inversion Strength in Climate Models. J. Climate Version: 1 24 (17) 4733-4740, ids: 0894-8755, doi: 10.1175/2011JCLI3968.1
  • Hwang, Yen-Ting, Dargan M. W. Frierson and Jennifer E. Kay (2011), Coupling between Arctic feedbacks and changes in poleward energy transport. Geophys. Res. Lett. Version: 1 38 , Art. No. L17704, ids: 0094-8276, doi: 10.1029/2011GL048546
  • Kay, Jennifer E., Marika M. Holland and Alexandra Jahn (2011), Inter-annual to multi-decadal Arctic sea ice extent trends in a warming world. Geophys. Res. Lett. Version: 1 38 , Art. No. L15708, ids: 0094-8276, doi: 10.1029/2011GL048008
  • Kay, J. E., K. Raeder, A. Gettelman and J. Anderson (2011), The Boundary Layer Response to Recent Arctic Sea Ice Loss and Implications for High-Latitude Climate Feedbacks. J. Climate Version: 1 24 (2) 428-447, ids: 0894-8755, doi: 10.1175/2010JCLI3651.1
  • Kay, Jennifer E. and Andrew Gettelman (2009), Cloud influence on and response to seasonal Arctic sea ice loss. J. Geophys. Res-Atmos. Version: 1 114 , Art. No. D18204, ids: 2169-897X, doi: 10.1029/2009JD011773
  • Gettelman, A., P. H. Lauritzen, M. Park and J. E. Kay (2009), Processes regulating short-lived species in the tropical tropopause layer. J. Geophys. Res-Atmos. Version: 1 114 , Art. No. D13303, ids: 2169-897X, doi: 10.1029/2009JD011785
  • Stephens, Graeme L., Deborah G. Vane, Simone Tanelli, Eastwood Im, Stephen Durden, Mark Rokey, Don Reinke, Philip Partain, Gerald G. Mace, Richard Austin, Tristan L'Ecuyer, John Haynes, Matthew Lebsock, Kentaroh Suzuki, Duane Waliser, Dong Wu, Jen Kay, Andrew Gettelman, Zhien Wang and Rojer Marchand (2008), CloudSat mission: Performance and early science after the first year of operation. J. Geophys. Res-Atmos. Version: 1 113 (D23) , Art. No. D00A18, ids: 2169-897X, doi: 10.1029/2008JD009982
  • Kay, Jennifer E., Tristan L'Ecuyer, Andrew Gettelman, Graeme Stephens and Chris O'Dell (2008), The contribution of cloud and radiation anomalies to the 2007 Arctic sea ice extent minimum. Geophys. Res. Lett. Version: 1 35 (8) , Art. No. L08503, ids: 0094-8276, doi: 10.1029/2008GL033451
  • Kay, Jennifer E. and Robert Wood (2008), Timescale analysis of aerosol sensitivity during homogeneous freezing and implications for upper tropospheric water vapor budgets. Geophys. Res. Lett. Version: 1 35 (10) , Art. No. L10809, ids: 0094-8276, doi: 10.1029/2007GL032628
  • Drobot, S, J Stroeve, J Maslanik, W Emery, C Fowler and J Kay (2008), Evolution of the 2007-2008 Arctic sea ice cover and prospects for a new record in 2008. Geophys. Res. Lett. Version: 1 35 (19) , Art. No. L19501, issn: 0094-8276, ids: 356UL, doi: 10.1029/2008GL035316
  • Kay, J. E., M. Baker and D. Hegg (2007), Physical controls on orographic cirrus inhomogeneity. Atmos. Chem. Phys. Version: 1 7 (14) 3771-3781, ids: 1680-7316
  • Kay, Jennifer E., Marcia Baker and Dean Hegg (2006), Microphysical and dynamical controls on cirrus cloud optical depth distributions. J. Geophys. Res-Atmos. Version: 1 111 (D24) , Art. No. D24205, ids: 2169-897X, doi: 10.1029/JD006916
  • Handcock, RN, AR Gillespie, KA Cherkauer, JE Kay, SJ Burges and SK Kampf (2006), Accuracy and uncertainty of thermal-infrared remote sensing of stream temperatures at multiple spatial scales. Remote Sens. Environ. Version: 1 100 (4) 427-440, ids: 0034-4257, doi: 10.1016/j.rse.2005.07.007
  • Kay, JE, SK Kampf, RN Handcock, KA Cherkauer, AR Gillespie and SJ Burges (2005), Accuracy of lake and stream temperatures estimated from thermal infrared images. JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN WATER RESOURCES ASSOCIATION Version: 1 41 (5) 1161-1175, ids: 1093-474X, doi: 10.1111/j.1752-1688.2005.tb03791.x
  • Diner, DJ, BH Braswell, R Davies, N Gobron, JN Hu, YF Jin, RA Kahn, Y Knyazikhin, N Loeb, JP Muller, AW Nolin, B Pinty, CB Schaaf, G Seiz and J Stroeve (2005), The value of multiangle measurements for retrieving structurally and radiatively consistent properties of clouds, aerosols, and surfaces. Remote Sens. Environ. Version: 1 97 (4) 495-518, ids: 0034-4257, doi: 10.1016/j.rse.2005.06.006
  • Cherkauer, KA, SJ Burges, RN Handcock, JE Kay, SK Kampf and AR Gillespie (2005), Assessing satellite-based and aircraft-based thermal infrared remote sensing for monitoring Pacific Northwest river temperature. JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN WATER RESOURCES ASSOCIATION Version: 1 41 (5) 1149-1159, ids: 1093-474X, doi: 10.1111/j.1752-1688.2005.tb03790.x
  • Oza, NC, AN Srivastava and J Stroeve (2005), Improvements in virtual sensors: Using spatial information to estimate remote sensing spectra. IGARSS 2005: IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium, Vols 1-8, Proceedings Version: 1 IEEE; IEEE Geosci & Remote Sensing Soc; NASA; NOAA; USN Off Res; Japan Aerosp Explorat Agcy; Natl Polar orbiting Operat Environm Satellite Syst; Ball Aerosp & Technologies Corp; Int Union Radio Sci; Elect & Telecommun Res Inst; Korea Sci & Engn Fdn; Korea 5606-5609, Seoul, SOUTH KOREA, JUL 25-29, 2005, isbn: 0-7803-9050-4
  • Cavalieri, DJ, J Maslanik, T Markus, J Stroeve, M Sturm, J Heinrichs, E Kim, AJ Gasiewski and JC Comiso (2003), EOS Aqua AMSR-E arctic sea ice validation program. MICROWAVE REMOTE SENSING OF THE ATMOSPHERE AND ENVIRONMENT III Version: 1 Chinese Soc Oceanog; SPIE; NASA Earth Sci Technol Off; Natl Polar-Orbiting Operat Environm Satellite Syst, Integrated Program Off; Commun Res Lab; NOAA; Minist Sci & Technol; China Assoc Sci & Technol; SOA; Chinese Meteorol Adm; CNSA; Natl Nat Sci Fdn Chi 4894 413-424, HANGZHOU, PEOPLES R CHINA, OCT 24-25, 2002, Ed. Kummerow, CD; Jiang, J; Uratuka, S, ids: 0277-786X, isbn: 0-8194-4680-7, doi: 10.1117/12.467791
  • Kay, JE, V Tsemekhman, B Larson, M Baker and B Swanson (2003), Comment on evidence for surface-initiated homogeneous nucleation. Atmos. Chem. Phys. Version: 1 3 1439-1443, ids: 1680-7324
  • Kay, JE, AR Gillespie, GB Hansen and EC Pettit (2003), Spatial relationships between snow contaminant content, grain size, and surface temperature from multispectral images of Mt. Rainier, Washington (USA). Remote Sens. Environ. Version: 1 86 (2) 216-231, ids: 0034-4257, doi: 10.1016/S0034-4257(03)00102-0
  • Turtle, EP, ME Minitti, BA Cohen, NL Chabot, D Tourbier, C Bachman, J Brock, R Foerstner, GV Hoppa, J Kay, CA Lewicki, RME Mastrapa, J Patel, N Sherman, JN Spitale, AS Rivkin, DE Trilling, D Villegas and CM Weitz (1999), AMBASSADOR: Asteroid sample return mission to 7 Iris. ACTA ASTRONAUTICA Version: 1 45 (9-Apr) 415-422, ids: 0094-5765, doi: 10.1016/S0094-5765(99)00161-7
  • Diner, DJ, GP Asner, R Davies, Y Knyazikhin, JP Muller, AW Nolin, B Pinty, CB Schaaf and J Stroeve (1999), New directions in earth observing: Scientific applications of multiangle remote sensing. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc. Version: 1 80 (11) 2209-2228, ids: 0003-0007, doi: 10.1175/1520-0477(1999)080<2209:NDIEOS>2.0.CO;2
  • Simonelli, DP, J Kay, D Adinolfi, J Veverka, PC Thomas and P Helfenstein (1999), Phoebe: Albedo map and photometric properties. Icarus Version: 1 138 (2) 249-258, ids: 0019-1035, doi: 10.1006/icar.1999.6077
  • Stroeve, J, J Maslanik and XM Li (1998), An intercomparison of DMSP F11- and F13-derived sea ice products. Remote Sens. Environ. Version: 1 64 (2) 132-152, issn: 0034-4257, ids: ZG045, doi: 10.1016/S0034-4257(97)00174-0
  • Stroeve, J and K Steffen (1998), Variability of AVHRR-derived clear-sky surface temperature over the Greenland ice sheet. J. Appl. Meteorol. Version: 1 37 (1) 23-31, issn: 0894-8763, ids: YQ932, doi: 10.1175/1520-0450(1998)037<0023:VOADCS>2.0.CO;2
  • Stroeve, J, A Nolin and K Steffen (1997), Comparison of AVHRR-derived and in situ surface albedo over the Greenland ice sheet. Remote Sens. Environ. Version: 1 62 (3) 262-276, issn: 0034-4257, ids: YD929, doi: 10.1016/S0034-4257(97)00107-7
  • Stroeve, J, M Haefliger and K Steffen (1996), Surface temperature from ERS-1 ATSR infrared thermal satellite data in polar regions. J. Appl. Meteorol. Version: 1 35 (8) 1231-1239, issn: 0894-8763, ids: VE128, doi: 10.1175/1520-0450(1996)035<1231:STFAIT>2.0.CO;2
  • STEFFEN, K, W ABDALATI and J STROEVE (1993), CLIMATE SENSITIVITY STUDIES OF THE GREENLAND ICE-SHEET USING SATELLITE AVHRR, SMMR, SSM/I AND IN-SITU DATA. Meteorol. Atmos. Phys. Version: 1 51 (4-Mar) 239-258, issn: 0177-7971, ids: LM300, doi: 10.1007/BF01030497