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Hillary Scannell

If you need to locate a faculty member with knowledge about particular functions of SMS (e.g., graduate admissions), you can find them on the list of current faculty committees.

Hillary Scannell

Contact Information

Hillary Scannell

(207) 581-4424


Gulf of Maine Research Institute
350 Commercial Street 
Portland, ME  04101


M.S. expected 2014, B.S. University of Maine 2013


I am using statistical models to explain how regional climate variability influences the frequency and probability of extreme warming events (ocean heat waves) in the upper ocean.

Recently, unprecedented warming during the summer of 2012 caused the largest and the most intense ocean heat wave in the Northwest Atlantic. This caused an area from Cape Hatteras to Iceland to warm up to 3oC above the 1982-2011 average. The scale and magnitude of this event had adverse effects on both ecosystems and the economy, and the intensity was on par with the warming expected by the end of the century. 

From model experiments, I've found that the frequency of ocean heat waves has increased in response to the long-term warming trend in sea surface temperature. However, interdecadal changes in this frequency parameter can be better explained by modes of natural climate variability (e.g. Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation and Pacific Decadal Oscillation). For my master's thesis, I've developed a statistical Bayesian approach to investigate regional changes in ocean heat wave frequency in both the North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans.

My research interests are in climate variability and large-scale physical oceanography. I currently work in collaboration with the Ecosystem Modeling Lab at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute in Portland, Maine under the advisement of Dr. Andrew Pershing. 

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