KIRK BRYAN IS an American oceanographer and Senior Research Scholar at Princeton University whose research has dealt with the construction of models for ocean circulation and the roles played by oceans in the climate system. Bryan is considered the founder of numerical ocean modeling. Climate models are computer-based simulations that use mathematical formulas to recreate the chemical and physical processes that drive Earth's climate. Bryan's original model is still considered an insight of enormous importance for climate science and weather forecasting. Earlier knowledge of the oceanic and atmospheric circulation, and their interactions, was based purely on theory and observation.
According to Bryan, the world's oceans are one of the least-understood elements in the climate system. His research aims to understand the role of ocean circulation in the Earth's current climate, and its variations over the recent geological record. To gain a better understanding of ocean circulation, Bryan has systematically compared data and has established a hierarchy of coupled models of increasing complexity. Bryan's work is geared toward a comparison of the atmosphere and the ocean, and their roles in the global heat and water balance.
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