Joellen L. Russell

Joint University Distinguished Professor, Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences
Department Head and Distinguished Professor, Geosciences (home department)
Joint Distinguished Professor, Lunar and Planetary Laboratory and Planetary Sciences
Joint Distinguished Professor, Applied Mathematics - GIDP
Joint Distinugished Professor, Global Change - GIDP

Expertise Use of robot floats, satellites, and supercomputers to observe and predict the ocean’s role in the climate and carbon cycle of the past, the present and the future. Russell’s earlier work 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 poleward intensified 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. Prof. Russell is one of the authors of the climate scientists’ amicus brief cited in the landmark 2007 Massachusetts vs the EPA Supreme Court decision that ruled that carbon dioxide is a pollutant covered under the Clean Air Act and must be regulated by the EPA.

Prof. Russell is the lead for the modeling theme of the Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modeling project (SOCCOM) including its Southern Ocean Model Intercomparison Project (SOMIP), in active collaboration with colleagues at the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (NOAA/GFDL). Russell currently serves as Co-Chair of the NOAA Science Advisory Board’s Climate Working Group and on the National Center for Atmospheric Research’s Community Earth System Model Advisory Board.


  • PHD in Oceanography, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California-San Diego
  • A.B. in Environmental Geoscience, Harvard