Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences

Jennifer Kay

Jennifer Kay

Jen Kay is an assistant professor in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences and Fellow of CIRES at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She remains a visiting scientist at NCAR, 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.

Current Research

Polar cloud and precipitation processes in a warming world (2016)

The Kay group works at the nexus of observations and modeling to understand the processes controlling climate change and variability. We often focus on cloud and precipitation processes, and their coupling with the global circulation. We primarily work in polar regions, though lately we have been going global!  Together with Line Bourdages (Ph.D. student McGill University), 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.  Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (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's recently accepted paper in Climate Dynamics is on precipitation changes in extratropical cyclones in a warming world.  Together with Jeff Weiss (ATOC), Vineel is now exploring climate prediction metrics using initial-condition climate model ensembles.  ATOC Ph.D. candidate Bill Frey researches: “How does “fixing” the Southern Ocean absorbed shortwave radiation bias impact climate sensitivity and atmospheric circulation.  Finally, CIRES postdoc Elizabeth Maroon joined us in October after receiving her Ph.D. from the University of Washington in Seattle.  Her work focuses on the ocean circulation and its regulation of warming in response to increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) satellite image of intriguing Southern Ocean clouds. Image credit: NASA MODIS satellite

21st summer warming over Greenland in two Community Earth System Model (CESM) Large Ensemble members.


View Publications

  • 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 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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, 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
  • 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