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Organised by Dr Daniel Lunt, Professor Harry Elderfield FRS, Professor Andy Ridgwell and Professor Rich Pancost
In several periods in Earth's history, the climate has been significantly warmer than present. What lessons about the future can be learnt from past warm periods? The answer depends on the quality of reconstructions of past climates, our understanding of their causes, and the validity of climate models which aim to reproduce them. This meeting will address these exciting and challenging issues.
This meeting was followed by a satellite meeting on Reconstructing and understanding CO2 variability in the past which took place at the Kavli Royal Society International Centre from 12-13 October 2011.
The proceedings of this meeting will be published in a dedicated issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A.
Biographies and audio recordings are available below.
Dr Daniel Lunt, University of Bristol, UK Organiser
Dan Lunt is a Senior Research Fellow in the School of Geographical Sciences at the University of Bristol. Much of his work is driven by a desire to understand the world we live in, and how it has varied in the past. To achieve this, he makes use of numerical models of past climates, to test hypotheses derived from the geological record. He also uses the past climate record to improve models, and to better predict future climate change. He has provided evidence to a UK Government Select Committee on Geoengineering and climate change, and is a Contributing Author to the forthcoming IPCC report. He is founding Chief Executive Editor of the Geoscientific Model Development, an journal designed for the description and evaluation of models of the Earth System. In 2010 he won the Philip Leverhulme Prize, in recognition of the fundamental contribution his findings have made across a range of different subject areas.
Professor Harry Elderfield FRS, University of Cambridge, UK Organiser
Professor Harry Elderfield FRS is the Director of Research in the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge and a fellow of St. Catharine's College Cambridge, European Association for Geochemistry, American Geophysical Union and the Royal Society. He has received the Prestwich and Lyell Medals of the Geological Society of London and the Urey Medal of the European Geophysical Union. The broad objective of my research is to understand how and why the chemical composition of the oceans and atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and global temperature have changed through time. The factors which control past ocean chemistry are complex and methods involving multiple tracers of past ocean chemistry are the key to understanding them. My main approach is to proxy seawater composition using trace metal and isotopic contents of the carbonate shells of marine microfossils: planktonic and benthic foraminifera. I work with a group of postdocs, research students and technicians, and collaborate with scientists in Cambridge, the UK and worldwide, on a number of research projects, current examples of which are: Ocean temperatures and ice volume over glacial-interglacial cycles within the Pleistocene based on novel chemical thermometry and links to changes in ocean circulation and records of air temperature and CO2 from ice cores; Ocean carbonate cycles and carbonate saturation state of the oceans compared with changing CO2 ; how the preservation history of CaCO_3 in the deep ocean is affected by changing modes of ocean circulation relationship to internal and external reorganisation of carbon reservoirs.
Professor Andy Ridgwell, University of Bristol, UKOrganiser
Professor Andy Ridgwell is a Royal Society University Research Fellow at the University of Bristol. Although in practice spending most of his time tending to the every need of 6 cats, his research addresses fundamental questions surrounding the past and future controls on atmospheric CO2, and the nature of the relationship between CO2, climate, global biogeochemical cycles, and life. He is also closely involved in research into future ocean acidification impacts and the effectiveness (or otherwise) of geoengineering. His develops his own numerical analytical tools (`Earth system models´) to ask questions and test hypotheses regarding the functioning of the Earth system.
Professor Richard Pancost, University of Bristol, UK Organiser
Richard Pancost started his academic career at the Pennsylvania State University, where he obtained his PhD in Geosciences; this was followed by a postdoctoral research position at the Netherlands Institute for Sea Research and then a lectureship appointment at the University of Bristol in 2000. He is is currently a Professor of Biogeochemistry in the School of Chemistry at Bristol and is the head of the Cabot Institute’s Global Change research theme. He is an organic geochemist with specific expertise in geomicrobiology and palaeoclimate reconstruction, with an emphasis on developing and applying molecular proxies for ancient carbon dioxide concentrations and temperatures. Recent research highlights include new sea surface temperature records for the Paleogene and biomarker records for methane cycling and hydrological changes during past episodes of global warmth. He has been involved in numerous projects, including five EU grants, and has numerous collaborators from across the globe. In recognition for his early career accomplishments, he was awarded the 2005 Schenk Award by the European Association of Organic Geochemists, and in 2011 he was awarded the Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award.
Professor Mark Pagani, Yale University, USA Overview of CO2 change on 55 million year timescale
Mark Pagani is a Professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at Yale University. His research interests span the fields of biogeochemistry, organic geochemistry, paleoceanography, and paleoclimatology, with a focus on understanding the environmental factors driving the evolution of climate during the past 60 million years.
Dr Gavin Foster, University of Southampton, UK Drivers of CO2 change during the middle Miocene
Gavin Foster is a NERC Advanced Research Fellow and has recently moved from the University of Bristol to take up a Lectureship position at the School of Ocean and Earth Science at the University of Southampton. He gained a PhD in isotope geochemistry in 2000 from the Open University and much of his research since has focused on the use of novel isotope systems to gain insights into key problems in Earth System Science. Since 2003 he has been interested in the reconstruction of atmospheric pCO2 beyond the reach of the ice cores using boron isotopes in foraminifera recovered from deep marine sediments.
Professor Maureen Raymo, Boston University, USACO2 and sea level: looking to the past to predict the future
Professor Maureen E. Raymo is a paleoclimatologist and marinegeologist who works at the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University where she is also Director of the Lamont Deep Sea Sample Repository. She studies the history and causes of climate change in Earth's past.In 1988 she proposed the uplift weathering hypothesis that tied global cooling and the onset of polar glaciations in the late Cenozoic to a drawdown in atmospheric CO2 caused by the uplift of the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau. In addition to publishing fundamental work on the stratigraphy and chronology of the late Neogene, Raymo has also proposed hypotheses explaining why ice sheets appear to wax and wane primarily at the Earth’s obliquity frequency over much of the Plio--‐Pleistocene and why extremely large ice sheets accumulated every ~100,000 years during the most recent 700,000 years. In 2002, she was awarded the Robert L. and Bettie P. Cody Award in Ocean Sciences from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She is a fellow of both the American Geophysical Union and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Professor Dorthe Dahl-Jensen, Niels Bohr Institute, DenmarkLooking at ice to understand climate - the role of orbital forcing in driving warm climates
Dorthe Dahl-Jensen is professor in Ice Physics at the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen. She heads the Centre of Excellence for Ice and Climate with the focus to use ice core data to improve our understanding of the past, the present and the future climate. In addition she leads the deep drilling program NEEM on the Greenland Ice Sheet with participation of researchers from 14 nations. The research of Dorthe Dahl-Jensen includes reconstruction of climate records from ice cores and borehole data and construction of ice flow models to date ice cores. The history and evolution of the Greenland Ice Sheet especially in the previous warm interglacial is the present focus of her research. In addition she coordinates the EU FP7 programme Past4Future and has an ERC Advanced grant WATERundertheICE. Dorthe Dahl-Jensen is lead author of the chapter “The Greenland Ice Sheet in a Changing Climate” of the Arctic Council AMAP report “Climate Change and the Cryosphere: Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost in the Arctic”. She is member of the Danish Climate Commission that produced a report: Green Energy – the road to a Danish energy system without fossil fuels.
Professor James Zachos, University of California Santa Cruz, USA The dynamics of rapid greenhouse warming as revealed by the paleocene-eocene thermal maximuma
James C. Zachos is a Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC). He received his Ph.D. in Oceanography from the University of Rhode Island in 1988, was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Michigan, and a fellow at the University of Cambridge. Zachos’s research primarily focuses on the dynamics of climate and ocean carbon cycle coupling over geologic time, particularly during periods of rapid and extreme change. He has authored/co-authored 115 peer-reviewed publications on topics ranging from Eocene global warming and ocean acidification to Oligocene ice-sheet evolution, and was a contributor to the 2007 IPCC report. He is a fellow of the American Geophysical Union, the Geological Society of America, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, and the California Academy of Sciences, and is a recipient of the National Young Investigator, AGU Emiliani, and Humboldt Awards. He is also a member elect (2011) of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Dr Harry Dowsett, United States Geological Survey, USA Reconstructing and assessing confidence to warm pliocene sea surface temperature estimates
Harry Dowsett earned a Ph.D. in Geological Sciences from Brown University in 1988, studying under John Imbrie and Warren Prell. He is currently the Project Chief of the Pliocene Research, Interpretation & Synoptic Mapping group (PRISM) at the U.S. Geological Survey in Reston, Virginia. His primary research focus includes all aspects of Pliocene climate, but he specializes in the application of planktic foraminifera to climate change research. PRISM’s research is a vital part of the Pliocene Model Intercomparison Project (PlioMIP), providing the only existing Pliocene climate dataset to participating climate model groups. Harry also serves as Editor of the journal Micropaleontology and is an adjunct professor of Geology at George Mason University. From 2002 to 2003, Dr. Dowsett was Associate Director of the Paleoclimatology Program at the National Science Foundation. His start at the USGS came after being awarded a National Research Council Post-Doctoral Fellowship in 1987.
Professor Paul Pearson, Cardiff University, UK Warm ocean processes and carbon cycling in the Eocene
Paul Pearson studied for a BA in Geology from University of Oxford (1987) and a PhD from Cambridge University (1990). He has been at Cardiff University since 2003 where he heads the Palaeoclimate Research Group. Paul Pearson is interested in extracting climatic information from deep sea cores and sediments. He specialises in evolutionary and geochemical studies of planktonic foraminifera, and what they tell us about the long history of climate change on Earth. He has helped apply new proxies for determining past seawater pH and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, and hence the history of the greenhouse effect. His studies range from the Cretaceous period to Recent. Paul Pearson has sailed on several occasions with the Ocean Drilling Program. Over the last few years, he has been co-ordinating geological exploration and drilling programmes in coastal Tanzania and where excellently preserved samples have been obtained, providing new insights into the history of tropical climate.
Professor Jane Francis, University of Leeds, UK Polar paradise? Life at the poles in a warm greenhouse world
A geologist by training from the University of Southampton (BSc, PhD), she was a NERC Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of London and then palaeobotanist at the British Antarctic Survey. She was an Australian Research Fellow at the University of Adelaide in Australia for five years, before taking up a lectureship at the University of Leeds. She became Professor of Palaeoclimatology at Leeds in 2004 and was a Royal Society Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellow 2003-4. Her research interests include ancient climates, particularly of the Polar Regions. She studies fossil plants from the Arctic and Antarctica to decipher greenhouse climates of the past, when forests, not glaciers, covered the high latitudes. Jane has undertaken many scientific expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctica in search of fossil forests and ancient climates, in collaboration with research teams from the UK, Europe, New Zealand, USA, Australia and Canada. In addition, she has worked in the hot red deserts of central Australia as part of Australian funded research and in southern Patagonia in collaboration with colleagues from Argentina. She was awarded the Polar Medal in 2002 in recognition of her contribution to British polar research.
Dr Bette Otto-Bliesner, National Center for Atmospheric Research, USA Understanding warmth during the last interglacial
Dr. Bette Otto-Bliesner is a Senior Scientist in the Climate and Global Dynamics Division at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado. Before coming to NCAR, she was on the faculty of the Geology Department at the University of Texas at Arlington. Her research focuses on using computer-based models of Earth's climate to investigate past climate change and climate variability across a wide range of time scales and to enhance the credibility of future projections. She is particularly interested in climate change forced naturally over the glacial-interglacial cycles of the last million years. She received her degrees in meteorology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Otto-Bliesner was lead author on the Fourth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment report, and is currently a lead author on the information from paleoclimate archives chapter for the IPCC AR5. She serves as co-chair of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme, Past Global Changes Project (PAGES) and of the Community Earth System Model Paleoclimate Working Group. She has served on numerous national and international committees, including for the National Academy of Sciences, the American Geophysical Union, and the Paleoclimate Modeling Intercomparison Projects.
Professor Rob DeConto, University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA A revised view of Antarctic climate and glacial history: implications for future sea level
Rob DeConto is a Professor of Geosciences at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. He maintains adjunct research positions at Columbia University and Victoria University of Wellington. Rob’s background spans geology, oceanography, and atmospheric science, and he has held research positions at both the US National Centre for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). His early research used numerical climate models to better understand the mechanisms responsible for past periods of extreme global warmth. In recent years, his research has shifted toward the polar regions- including fieldwork in Antarctica, the development of coupled climate-ice sheet models, and the application of those models to a wide range of past and future climate scenarios. Rob currently serves on a number of national and international science boards and advisory panels and he is currently co-chair of ACE (Antarctic Climate Evolution), an international research program under the auspices of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research.
Professor Paul Valdes, University of Bristol, UK Uncertainty in model predictions of extreme warm climates
Professor Paul Valdes is Professor of Physical Geography and Head of the School of Geographical Sciences. He is an internationally recognised researcher on modelling the Earth system, especially focussing on past change. He has published more than 120 peer-reviewed papers on various aspects of past, present, and future climate change. The work spans all time periods from millions of years into the past, to thousands of years into the future, and particularly examines the interactions between the climate system and other aspects of change. Recently he has been particularly focussing on chemistry-vegetation-climate feedbacks for Quaternary, Cretaceous and Eocene climates. He is also non-executive director of Greenstone Carbon Management. In 2007, he was awarded a Royal Society Wolfson Merit Prize for his work on climate change.
Dr Jeffrey Kiehl, National Center for Atmospheric, USA Towards a solution to the cold pole problem
Jeffrey T. Kiehl, Ph.D. is a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, where he heads the Climate Change Research Section. Over the past 30 years he has carried out research on a wide range of scientific questions regarding anthropogenic climate change. He has published over one hundred articles on the effects of greenhouse gases on Earth’s climate, the effects of stratospheric ozone depletion on climate, and the effects of aerosols on the climate system. He is the co-author of Frontiers of Climate Modeling published by Cambridge University Press. His current research is on Earth’s deep past climates and future climate change. He is also participates in projects to better communicate climate science to the public. He chaired the Community Climate System Model project at NCAR for a number of years. He has been a member of the National Research Council’s Climate Research Committee and the Committee for Global Change and has served on a number of NRC panels over the past twenty years. He is a Fellow of both the American Meteorological Society and the American Geophysical Union.
Professor Mat Collins, University of Exeter, UK Constraints on climate feedbacks
Mat Collins is Associate Professor in Exeter Climate Systems, College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, University of Exeter. He was previously the Manager of Ensemble Climate Prediction at the Met Office Hadley Centre (MOHC). His research interests are in quantifying uncertainty and probabilistic climate prediction, seasonal to decadal climate predictability and prediction and in understanding climate variability (especially El Niño). He was recently appointed to the International CLIVAR Pacific Implementation Panel and is serving as a Coordinating Lead Author on the IPCC AR5.
Professor Richard Zeebe, University of Hawaii at Manoa, USA Lessons from the past on climate sensitivity, long-term CO2 legacy, and ocean acidification
Richard Zeebe is a Professor in the Department of Oceanography at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He received his PhD in Physics from the University of Bremen, Germany and worked at Columbia University in New York as a post-doctoral scholar. His research focuses on the global carbon cycle, biogeochemistry and paleoclimatology. This includes a broad spectrum of topics, ranging from physico-chemical properties of molecules and the biogeochemistry of tiny marine organisms to climate change and ocean acidification at the global scale. He has authored and co-authored more than fifty publications in peer-reviewed international journals and has published a book on the CO2 chemistry in seawater. He is a also a consultant for a company that produces biofuels from microalgae. Dr. Zeebe has served on various panels and workshops, including an IPCC meeting on the impacts of ocean acidification on marine biology and ecosystems. Dr. Zeebe has recently served as an associate editor of the international journal 'Climate of the Past' and is currently an associate editor of the international journal 'Paleoceanography'.
Dr Mark Siddall, University of Bristol, UK A working Bayesian estimate of the ice-sheet contribution to future sea-level change
Mark Siddall completed hid PhD at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, working with Eelco Rohling and David Smeed on sea level reconstructions based on modelling Red Sea sediment core oxygen isotopes. His first post doctorate position was in the Climate and Environmental Physics Group at the University of Bern working with Thomas Stocker and others on the development of paleo-proxies for use in ocean models. He then took up a research fellowship with Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, working on ocean-circulation proxies in the Geochemistry group. He now holds an RCUK fellowship with the University of Bristol in the Department of Earth Sciences where he works on broad aspects of climate change. He runs the PALSEA PAGES/IMAGES international working group which works to understand past changes in sea level and applying that knowledge to understanding future changes over the next century.
Dr James Hansen, Columbia University, USA Earth's Climate History: Lessons for the Future
Dr. James Hansen heads the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City and is Adjunct Professor at Columbia University. He was trained in physics in the space science program of Dr. James Van Allen at the University of Iowa. Since the late 1970s, he has focused his research on Earth's climate. Dr. Hansen is best known for testimony to congressional committees in the 1980s that helped raise awareness of global warming. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1995 and designated by Time Magazine in 2006 as one of the world's 100 most influential people. He has received numerous awards including the Carl-Gustaf Rossby Research Medal, the Sophie Prize and the Blue Planet Prize. Dr. Hansen is recognized for speaking truth to power and for outlining actions that must be taken to protect the future of young people and other species on the planet.
Panel discussion 25 May
Public lecture 29 May
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