A team of scientists led by Kuo-Nan Liou and Yu Gu in UCLA’s Joint Institute for Regional Earth System Science and Engineering has been awarded a three-year, $2.1 million grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Program Office to improve climate models.

The institute, known as JIFRESSE, is a partnership between UCLA and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and it is led by Liou, distinguished professor of atmospheric and oceanic science in the UCLA College, who is the principal investigator on this grant. Gu is assistant director of the institute.

JIFRESSE combines UCLA’s strength in climate modeling and remote sensing with JPL’s access to data collected from satellites to improve understanding and to develop future projections about global climate change and its effect on regional climates and environments.

The grant supports the researchers’ efforts to better incorporate how mountains, vegetation, such as forests, and snow impurities like dust and black carbon affect the amount of energy the Earth’s surface absorbs from the sun. With this new approach, they can gain a deeper understanding of the fundamental interactions between the atmosphere and the land to then, develop better climate models. In support of UCLA’s specialized tasks, the team members from UCLA will receive $605,000 over the three-year period of the grant.