A Fresh Approach to Climate Science

Understanding and predicting global climate change is arguably the most complex scientific challenge ever faced by mankind. To address this problem, Kerry A. Emanuel, Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Meteorology, and Daniel H. Rothman, Professor of Geophysics, founded the Lorenz Center, an advanced climate research center devoted to fundamental inquiry at MIT. By emphasizing curiosity-driven research, the Center fosters creative approaches to learning how climate works.

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The main objective of the Lorenz Center, simply put, is both to attract the very best minds to climate science and to give them free reign to think creatively, unsaddled by the pressing practical demands of climate forecasting.

In this effort, we provide a small number of exceptional scientists—in physics, applied mathematics, chemistry, biology, and earth science—with the freedom and resources to follow innovative high-risk paths toward a fundamental understanding of the mechanisms that influence Earth’s climate. Emphasis is on developing new theory and, equally important, reconciling it with observations. More on this fresh approach to climate science can be found here.

The Lorenz Center is named after the late Edward N. Lorenz, the founder of modern chaos theory and an early contributor to theoretical climate science. Lorenz, a member of MIT’s faculty and a presence for over six decades, epitomized the qualities we seek: extraordinary creativity focused on fundamental aspects of natural phenomena.

The Lorenz Center is located on the top floor of MIT’s Green Building, home to MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences (EAPS). The Center works closely with existing climate-related academic and research programs at MIT, including the Program for Atmospheres, Oceans, and Climate, the Climate Modeling Initiative, the Center for Global Change Science, and the Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change.

Currently, the Lorenz Center hosts an annual public outreach lecture, the John Carlson Lecturesto communicate exciting new results in climate science to the general public. The 2011 inaugural lecture featured Paul Hoffman, Sturgis Hooper Professor of Geology Emeritus at Harvard University, and each lecture since has, similarly drawn large audiences to the New England Aquarium to learn about important topics in climate research.

For more information, and answers to any questions, see our FAQ section.

From left to right: John Carlson, the lecture’s sponsor, Kerry Emanuel, co-founder of the Lorenz Center and Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Meteorology at MIT; Professor Hoffman; and Daniel H. Rothman, co-founder of the Lorenz Center and Professor of Geophysics at MIT.