Eric Wolf completed his PhD in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences in 2014 at CU Boulder, after receiving a BS in Astronomy from the University of Maryland in 2007. Eric continues to work at the University of Colorado, Boulder's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics as a research scientist, while maintaining strong collaborations across the NASA exoplanet community.
A complete theoretical understanding of exoplanetary atmospheres is critical for interpreting spectra of exoplanets taken from current and future instruments. While specialized models can allow for detailed simulations of a single process at a time, 3D climate system models allow for a "good-enough" simulation of many interconnected physical processes simultaneously, allowing for a self-consistent coupled model of the whole atmosphere. In this seminar I review some introductory concepts on how 3D climate models work and why they are useful, and perhaps necessary, for studying the complex climates of extrasolar planets. Then I discuss some recent applications of 3D climate models towards understanding terrestrial exoplanets, with results framed in the context of plausible observations. Evidence is mounting, both from theory and observation, that all roads to exoplanet characterization go through clouds and aerosols. Understanding exoplanet clouds, hazes, and their relationship to transmission and emission spectra will be a critical field of research over the next decade, and one where 3D climate models are poised to make useful contributions.