Looking back to our future: Is the IPCC optimistic on climate change?
Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences
IPCC publications provide policymakers with projected future warming and sea-level rise falling within a wide band of smooth curves. Paleoclimatic data from ice cores and other archives show that past changes have been anything but smooth, with abrupt, widespread changes common. In addition, models driven by reconstructed forcings seem to often underestimate and rarely overestimate reconstructed changes. Because larger, faster, and less-expected changes are harder to deal with, these paleoclimatic results suggest the hypothesis that the future will be more challenging than now anticipated by many policymakers.
About the Lecturer
Dr. Richard B. Alley is Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences and Associate of the EMS Environment Institute at The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA. There he teaches and conducts research on the paleoclimatic records, dynamics, and sedimentary deposits of large ice sheets, as a means of understanding the climate system and its history, and projecting future changes in climate and sea level.
Dr. Alley has spent three field seasons in Antarctica and five in Greenland. He is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, and has been awarded a Packard Fellowship, a Presidential Young Investigator Award, the Horton Award of the American Geophysical Union Hydrology Section, the Easterbrook Award of the Quaternary Geology and Geomorphology section of Geological Society of America, the Wilson Teaching Award of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences and the Faculty Scholar Medal of the Pennsylvania State University. His book on abrupt climate change, The Two-Mile Time Machine, was the national Phi Beta Kappa Science Award winner for 2001.
Dr. Alley chaired a recent National Research Council study on Abrupt Climate Change, and serves, or has served, on many other advisory panels and steering committees. He was invited to breakfast with a sitting U.S. Vice President to discuss climate change, and was invited to testify to a Senate committee. He has authored or coauthored more than 135 refereed publications, and is a "highly cited" researcher as indexed by ISI.
Dr. Alley is happily married with two children, a ranch house, a cat, a minivan, and two bicycles, and resides in State College, PA, USA, where he coaches recreational soccer and occasionally plays some. He received his Ph.D. in Geology, with a minor in Materials Science, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1987, and earned an MSc degree (1983) and BSc degree (1980) in Geology from the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, USA.