Community Lecture: Looking Back to the Future with a Paleoclimatologist

Thursday, August 17,
5:30 – 7:00 p.m.
Wine & cheese at 5:30 p.m. in the Commons.
Presentation begins at 6 p.m. in Harbourton Auditorium.

Presented by
Kira Lawrence, 2016-2017 Distinguished Lecturer,
Lafayette College.

Dr. Lawrence is a paleoceanographer/paleoclimatologist who uses sediments from deep sea cores to study past intervals of sustained warmth, the history of glaciation in the Northern Hemisphere, and the effect of Milankovtich cycles on late Cenozoic climate. View CV »

Because the observational record of climate change is short relative to the time scales on which many climate system processes operate, the paleoclimate community explores past climate intervals to gain insight into the behavior of critical climate system processes. Deep Ocean Drilling has provided a rich archive of marine sediments for studying Earth history. A variety of different indicators of past climate recovered from these sediment archives have enable the detailed characterization of climate conditions during both warm and cold intervals in the past. Because of the dramatic changes in Earth’s climate and oceans imposed by anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gasses, of particular interest are past warm climate intervals, which help elucidate and contextualize potential future climate conditions. The last interval of sustained warmth in Earth’s history was the Pliocene Epoch (~3-5 Ma), during which global mean annual temperatures were 3-4°C warmer than modern and atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide were comparable to modern (~400ppm).