Dr. Richard Alley

Crumbling at the edges: Ice sheets and sea level & Big Challenges and Bigger Opportunities: Confronting Climate Change

March 11, 2016

Dr. Richard Alley (PhD 1987 in Geology from Wisconsin) is Evan Pugh University Professor of Geosciences and Associate of the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute at The Pennsylvania State University.  He studies the great ice sheets to aid in prediction of future changes in climate and sea level, and has conducted three field seasons in Antarctica, eight in Greenland, and three in Alaska.  He has been honored for research (including election to the US National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society, the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, the Heinz Prize, BBVA Frontiers of Science Award, the Revelle Medal of the American Geophysical Union, the Seligman Crystal of the International Glaciological Society, and others), teaching (four teaching-related awards at Penn State), and service (including the American Association for the Advancement of Science Public Engagement with Science Award, the Public Service Award of the Geological Society of America, the American Geological Institute Award For Outstanding Contribution To Public Understanding of the Geosciences, and the Schneider Award for Science Communication).  Dr. Alley has served on many advisory panels, including having chaired the National Research Council’s Panel on Abrupt Climate Change and participated in the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (which was co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize), and has provided requested advice to numerous government officials in multiple administrations including a US Vice President, the President’s Science Advisor, and committees and individual members of the US Senate and the House of Representatives.  He has authored or coauthored over 250 refereed scientific papers.  He was presenter for the PBS TV miniseries on climate and energy Earth: The Operators’ Manual, and author of the book.  His popular account of climate change and ice cores, The Two-Mile Time Machine, was Phi Beta Kappa’s science book of the year in 2001.  Dr. Alley is happily married with two grown daughters, two stay-at-home cats, a bicycle, and a pair of soccer cleats.


 Geology Colloquium

Crumbling at the edges: Ice sheets and sea level

3 pm Friday, March 11th, 2016

Room 108 Geological Sciences

 This is a colloquium meant for geologists and others with scientific expertise.  This event is free and open to the public.


 Joint LSSP Symposium/Saturday Morning Science talk LSSP 2016 Flyer

Big Challenges and Bigger Opportunities: Confronting Climate Change

10:30 am Saturday, March 12th, 2016

Monsanto Auditorium

Wise use of the scholarship on energy and climate change can improve the economy as well as the environment. We gain great good from the energy in fossil fuels, but we are burning them roughly a million times faster than nature saved them for us, so we must change. If we delay the change, the CO2 will cause warming through unavoidable physics. Costs are projected to rise faster than temperatures, with each degree of warming costing more than the previous degree. We have already experienced the first degree of warming, and committed to much or all of the second, so we are discussing whether to cause the more-expensive degrees to follow. Uncertainties motivate greater actions to reduce warming, as costs of emitting CO2 may be slightly less, slightly more, or a lot more than expected, with little chance of being a lot less. Adapting to the committed warming and avoiding further warming can be done in beneficial ways. And, we are the first generation that knows how to use existing technologies to build a sustainable energy system that can power everyone almost forever, economically, environmentally and ethically.

This event is free and open to the public.