Paleoclimatology expert to deliver inaugural lecture honoring late SU faculty member Geoffrey O. Seltzer
Paleoclimatology expert to deliver inaugural lecture honoring late SU faculty member Geoffrey O. SeltzerOctober 25, 2005Kelly Homan Rodoskikahoman@syr.edu
Lonnie G. Thompson, one of the world’s foremost authorities on paleoclimatology and glaciology, will discuss abrupt climate change in the tropics, both in the past and at the present time, at Syracuse University on Nov. 7 in the inaugural Geoffrey O. Seltzer Lecture.
The lecture, presented by The College of Arts and Sciences, will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Heroy Auditorium, located in the Heroy Geology Building, and is free and open to the public. Parking is available in the Irving Garage.
Thompson is a Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Geological Sciences and senior research scientist at the Byrd Polar Research Center at The Ohio State University. He will present three examples of abrupt climate change, past and present, in the tropics: The current retreat of the world’s glaciers, resulting in diminishing ice fields on Mount Kilimanjaro; ice core records from three Tibetan and three Andean glaciers that show how unusual the 20th century has been in the low-latitude, high-altitude regions of the Earth; and remains of wetland plants that place the current abrupt climate change in Peru in a longer perspective.
These three lines of evidence, in some areas, fuel the argument that the present warming and glacier retreat is unprecedented for at least 6,500 years, Thompson says. “Simultaneous with 20th and 21st century warming, ice masses worldwideare retreating rapidly, contributing to global sea-level rise and threatening fresh water supplies in the world’s most populous tropical regions.” Thompson will also offer his perspective on the human response to global climate change.
Thompson has led more than 50 expeditions during the last 30 years, conducting ice-core drilling programs in the world’s polar regions as well as in tropical and sub-tropical ice fields. Recently, he and his team developed lightweight, solar-powered drilling equipment for the acquisition of histories from the Andes in Peru and Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. The results of these histories, published in more than 175 articles, have contributed greatly to the understanding of the Earth’s past, present and future climate system. Thompson’s research has resulted in major revisions to the field of paleoclimatology, in particular by demonstrating how tropical regions have undergone significant climate variability, countering an earlier view that higher latitudes dominate climate change.
This year, Thompson was elected to the National Academy of Sciences and was awarded the John and Alice Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement. He has been selected as one of “America’s Best” in science and medicine by Time and CNN.
The lecture is named for Geoffrey Owen Seltzer, a member of SU’s earth sciences faculty who died in January 2005. Seltzer taught quaternary and environmental geology and developed an internationally respected research program in the paleoclimatology of the Andes Mountains. He engaged in multidisciplinary research on topics ranging from global climate change in the geological past to the effects of future climate change on fresh water supplies, particularly in the Andean nations of South America. His research on occurrences of the El Ni?o weather system in the Southern Hemisphere during the geological past led to major advances in understanding its role in climate change.
Most recently, Seltzer and a group of colleagues and students were the first team to explore the long-term climate record of Lake Titicaca in the border region of Peru and Bolivia. He also directed the Vice Chancellor and Provost Deborah A. Freund’s initiative to promote interdisciplinary collaboration on environmental research.