6th Annual John Carlson Lecture: Big Ice: Antarctica, Greenland, and Boston, Richard Alley

 

Big Ice: Antarctica, Greenland, and Boston
Richard Alley

Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences, Penn State
SIMONS IMAX THEATRE, NEW ENGLAND AQUARIUM
Thursday, October 13, 2016, 7-9 PM

Lecture Summary

Established in 2011, The John Carlson Lecture communicates exciting new results in climate science to the general public and is made possible by a generous gift from MIT alumnus EAPS Visiting Committee member John H. Carlson to the Lorenz Center in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, MIT.  Past lecturers have specialized in a variety of topics ranging from climate dynamics, to meteorology, to geology, among them why the inherently chaotic behavior of the climate makes it so hard to predict; how changing climate, coupled with changing geology, has impacted habitat over geologic history; and the scientifically challenging relationship between clouds and climate.

This year, the Lorenz Center invited Dr. Richard Alley, the Evan Pugh University Professor of Geosciences in Penn State’s College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, an expert in glaciology, sea level rise and abrupt climate change, to present what we know about climate change from glaciology.

Based on his meticulous study of ice cores from Greenland and West Antarctica, Alley is widely credited with showing that the earth has experienced abrupt climate change in the past—and likely will again. In his highly engaging lecture, he presented ice-core evidence of slow as well as abrupt change in the climate record, touched on the geologic evidence of the extent and impact of previous ice ages, entertainingly called-out the behavior of pancakes and waffles as a model for ice sheet dynamics, and highlighted prospects for accelerated Antarctic and Greenland ice-sheet melting, and their potential as drivers for enhanced global sea-level rise.

A capacity crowd at the Omni Theater of the New England Aquarium enjoying the 2016 John Carlson Lecture “Big Ice: Antarctica, Greenland and Boston” given by Prof. Richard Alley – Image credit: John Gillooly

Three groups from EAPS shared research during the pre-lecture reception held in the Omni Theater foyer. Graduate students Chrstine Chen, Kaylee Brent, and Maya Stokes shared work in the McGee Lab to reconstruct how precipitation and wind patterns responded to past climate changes as a way to improve our understanding of how rainfall might change in the future. As outreach for the Darwin Project, Prof. Mick Follows, together with postdoc  Jonathan Lauderdale and researcher David Talmy brought microscopes and phytoplankton collected from Charles River earlier in the afternoon to share the hidden world that exists  in a drop of water, and finally Prof. Glenn Flierl, aided by Physics graduate student Keaton Burns demonstrated the iGlobe, an Earth and planetary sciences teaching tool.

At a private dinner for EAPS donors and friends held after the lecture, this year’s John Carlson Fellow Mukund Gupta, a 2nd year graduate student working with Prof. John Marshall, was happy to have the opportunity to meet and thank John Carlson in person. This year’s three new Norman C. Rasmussen climate fellows Raphael Rousseau-Rizzi, Ziwei Li, and Tristan Abbott (all first year students) also got to meet their benefactor, Corporation Member and EAPS Visiting Committee member, Neil Rasmussen. On behalf of the Lorenz Center, Kerry Emanuel and Dan Rothman thanked everyone for attending and for their support, and presented John Carlson with an autographed copy of Richard Alley’s book: “Earth: the Operator’s Manual”.

The John Carlson Lecture Series communicates exciting new results in climate science to the general public. Free of charge, the lecture is made possible by a generous gift from MIT alumnus John H. Carlson to the Lorenz Center at MIT.

 

Professor Richard Alley

About the Speaker
Dr. Richard Alley is an Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences in Penn State’s College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. His research interests focus on glaciology, sea level change and abrupt climate change, and he frequently discusses earth sciences on major media outlets, including NPR, BBC and PBS. He is widely credited with showing that the earth has experienced abrupt climate change in the past—and likely will again, based on his meticulous study of ice cores from Greenland and West Antarctica.

 

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