S.T. Lee Lecture 2007

Prof. Paul Mayewski

The ice chronicles and rapid climate change

Professor Paul Mayewski, 26 March 2007

Professor and Director of the Climate Change Institute, University of Maine, United States

Synopsis of lecture

Ice cores provide a robust physical and chemical record of past climate change extending from present back through several hundred thousand years. These records have been instrumental in understanding why, how fast, and how much climate can change; the impact of climate change on humans and ecosystems; and the impact of human activity on climate change. This presentation offers an overview of key results from the 110,000 year long GISP2 (central Greenland) ice core that dramatically changed the way scientists view the dynamics of past and future climate and from ITASE (International Trans Antarctic Scientific Expedition) ice cores that provide evidence of the current state of Antarctic climate.

Paul Mayewski

Professor Paul Mayewski has a long and distinguished career conducting atmospheric chemistry and climate change research and in the process has led more than 45 expeditions in the Antarctic, Arctic, Andes, Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau, and New Zealand. Paul received his PhD in 1973 from the Institute of Polar Studies at Ohio State University, and an Honorary Doctorate from Stockholm University, Sweden, in 2000. He is the organiser and chief scientist of such major research projects as the Greenland Ice Sheet Project 2 (GISP2) multi-national ice coring efforts in Asia, involving 25 American institutions, and the International Trans Antarctic Scientific Expeditions (ITASE), involving 21 countries. ITASE is a multi-disciplinary research program dedicated to understanding the spatial variability of Antarctic climate parameters, such as accumulation, air temperature and atmospheric circulation over the last 200-1000 years. He is the author of over 300 peer-reviewed scientific publications documenting natural and anthropogenic changes in the chemistry of the atmosphere, abrupt climate change events, and the association between climate change and disruptions to civilization. Along with co-author Frank White, Paul published a popular climate change book, “The Ice Chronicles”, which captures the adventure of scientific research in remote reaches of the Earth. Paul has received numerous honours, served on many national and international scientific committees, and has been featured in hundreds of media events including; NOVA, BBC, and most recently CBS 60 Minutes segments dedicated to recent changes in climate over the Arctic and Antarctic.