Joellen Russell

Associate Professor of Geosciences, University of Arizona
Theme 2 Lead
Office Phone
Department of Geosciences, University of Arizona, 1040 E. Fourth St., Tucson AZ 85721


The ocean’s role in climate and the use of Earth System Models and global coupled climate models to study it.


Joellen L. Russell, Associate Professor of Geosciences at the University of Arizona, received her bachelor's degree at Harvard University in Environmental Geoscience before earning her Ph.D. at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD in Oceanography. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Arizona in 2006, she worked at Princeton University at NOAA's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory during the intensive preparations for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment. Prof. Russell’s work there on the westerly winds led to her greatest research accomplishment so far: the creation of a new paradigm in climate science, namely that warmer climates produce stronger westerly winds. This insight solved one of the long-standing climate paradoxes, the mechanism responsible for transferring one-third of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere into the ocean and then back out again during our repeated glacial-interglacial cycles. She continues active collaboration with the GFDL Earth System Model and Climate Model Development Teams, and is currently serving as a member of the U.S. CLIVAR Office, Process Studies and Model Improvements Panel. Prof. Russell won the UA Provost’s Teaching Award in 2010 while successfully teaching introductory oceanography to over 1000 undergraduates in a single class, the most popular science class on campus. Prof. Russell is one of the 14 scientists behind an amicus curiae brief supporting the plaintiff in the historic U.S. Supreme Court decision on carbon dioxide emissions and climate change, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, et al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In 2011, the American Association of Petroleum Geologists appointed her a Distinguished Lecturer.

Prof. Russell serves as Lead of the modeling component (Theme 2) of the SOCCOM project. She and her group are directly involved in development of the observationally-based metrics, in analysis and assessment of the ultrahigh resolution coupled climate models and Earth System Models, and in the development of a Southern Ocean Model Intercomparison Program.