Inside Rensselaer
* Lonnie Thompson
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World Leader in the Science of Climate Change To Speak Sept. 28
Acclaimed paleoclimatologist and Distinguished University Professor at Ohio State University Lonnie Thompson will speak at Rensselaer Tuesday, Sept 28, from 4 to 6 p.m. The lecture is sponsored by Institute Professor of Science Bruce Watson, the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Education, and Rensselaer’s Vasudha Living & Learning Community. The lecture, which will take place in Room 308 of the Darrin Communications Center, is free and open to the public.

He has been called “The Ice Man” by National Geographic. But, Lonnie Thompson could easily carry multiple superheroic monikers. He is believed to have spent more time above 18,000 feet than anyone else on the planet. He has been interviewed by Rolling Stone. He has influenced political leaders like former Vice President Al Gore. And his groundbreaking research on glacial ice cores has changed the way the world looks at climate change.

“For more than 30 years, Lonnie Thompson has been the leading contributor to the existing database on the dynamics of high-altitude glaciers, and because of this he is one of the most prominent and honored climate scientists of our time,” Watson said of his fellow National Academy of Sciences member.

“His research involves expeditions to nearly inaccessible locations on our planet; I think most people would agree that science does not get any more exciting or logistically challenging. The resulting data tells a story that is important for the Rensselaer campus to hear.”

The lecture is the first in a series of lectures, film screenings, and events titled “Sustainable Visions” that are targeted to inspire undergraduate students and others on issues surrounding sustainability. Formally titled “Understanding Global Climate Change: A Paleoclimate Perspective From the World’s Highest Mountains,” the lecture is part of a two-day visit by Thompson that also includes a visit with earth and environmental sciences and environmental engineering students as well as a lunch at the student-run, sustainable dining experience, Terra Café. This will be on the second floor of the Russell Sage Dining Hall on Wednesday, Sept 29, at noon.

“Our students are keenly aware of issues related to climate change, and have demonstrated a passion for developing and promoting sustainable practices across campus,” said Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education Prabhat Hajela. “I believe this to be a wonderful opportunity for these students to hear first-hand, from a pre-eminent scientist, an in-depth discussion of a subject that has implications for the global development agenda.

Thompson’s research revolves around thousands of feet of ice cores that his team has drilled out of quickly disappearing glaciers around the globe. Using light-weight solar powered drills he helped develop, he has taken cores from ice fields in the tropical South American Andes, the Himalayas, and on Kilimanjaro. In recent years, his research has taken on much more urgency after his discovery of clear evidence that the warming of the last half century is unlike any seen in the past several millennia or more.

He has received the National Medal of Science and is a fellow of the American Geophysical Union, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 4, Number 14, September 24, 2010
©2010 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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