Carlson Lectures

The John Carlson Lecture communicates exciting new results in climate science to the general public. Free of charge and open to the general public, the lecture is made possible by a generous gift from John H. Carlson ’83 to the Lorenz Center in the MIT Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences.

John Carlson is a senior vice president and portfolio manager at Fidelity Investments whose background reflects his interests in economics and science. He may be the only Fidelity employee with an anemometer on his home balcony. Before joining the investment industry, he spent seven years at MIT studying meteorology. Ed Lorenz was his biggest influence.

Carlson funded the Lorenz Center’s annual outreach lecture, which communicates exciting new results in climate science to the general public. Carlson was motivated by the opportunity to support high-risk, curiosity-driven science, especially with the current uncertainty around federal funding. Most importantly, he wanted to honor a professor whose extraordinary intelligence, quiet, understated charm, and personal integrity inspired a generation of meteorologists. “My support of the Lorenz Center is really all about Ed Lorenz, the way he conducted himself in every aspect of his life, and the influence he had on me as a graduate student,” says Carlson.

8th Annual Carlson Lecture: Searching for Ancient Life on Mars, John P. Grotzinger

Thursday, October 11, 2018

For two decades, NASA has built and sent a series of orbiters, landers and rovers to seek signs of life on the red planet. The remaining question for future missions is now to determine if life ever originated on Mars.

7th Annual Carlson Lecture: A Brief History of Environmental Successes, Susan Solomon

Thursday, October 26, 2017

“Science is never sufficient to solve an environmental problem but it’s always, always necessary,” Susan Solomon said at the 7th annual John Carlson Lecture at the New England Aquarium.

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

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The history of that Ice Age can still be read in layers of the surviving ice sheets on Antarctica and Greenland. But can they survive warming?

5th Annual John Carlson Lecture: Watching Water: Nature’s Field Guide to Weather and Climate, Bjorn Stevens

Thursday, October 15, 2015

What is it about the mighty water molecule that makes it so important to our atmosphere, patterns of weather, climate and climate change?

4th Annual John Carlson Lecture: Big Cats, Panama, and Armadillos: A Story of Climate and Life, Peter Molnar

Did the emergence of the Isthmus of Panamá have anything to do with Ice Ages? Or was it already there millions of years before the first age?

3rd Annual John Carlson Lecture: Sea Ice, Climate and Observational Mathematics, John Wettlaufer

Wettlaufer interweaves the philosophy of science with the challenge of understanding and predicting climate behavior.

2nd Annual John Carlson Lecture: Predicting Climate in a Chaotic World, Timothy Palmer

Can we have any confidence at all in long-range predictions of weather? Or is the whole notion of predicting long-term changes in climate misguided and unscientific?

1st Annual John Carlson Lecture: Earth’s Surprising Climate History, Paul Hoffman

The geological record shows that Earth’s climate has changed in dramatic and surprising ways. Harvard geologist Paul Hoffman explains how those records developed into theories of climate change.