February 26, 2018

Atmospheric scientist to reflect on historic 1995 climate change report in Discovery Park presentation

Ben Santer, an atmospheric scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, will present "How a Sentence Changed Climate Science: Lessons Learned from the 1995 Climate Report" from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. March 5 in the Burton D. Morgan Center, Room 121.

The presentation, which is free and open to the public, is part of the Discovery Park Distinguished Lecture Series. The Purdue Climate Change Research Center in Discovery Park is a co-sponsor.

In November 1995, after three days of deliberations in Madrid's Palacio de Congresas, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reached its historic finding that "the balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate." While other individuals and national scientific organizations had reached similar conclusions previously, the sentence marked the first time that the international climate science community had spoken so clearly and forcefully. What followed were congressional investigations, charges of "scientific cleansing," allegations of peer-review corruption and professional misconduct, and claims of political tampering.

Santer, who spent several years addressing such criticism after helping to author the report, will reflect on some of the scientific and personal lessons he learned in the wake of its publication. Many of these lessons still have relevance in today's world, says Santer, whose work seeks to identify anthropogenic fingerprints in a number of different climate variables, such as tropopause height, atmospheric water vapor, ocean heat content and ocean surface temperatures in hurricane formation regions.

Santer holds a Ph.D. in climatology from the University of East Anglia, England. After completing his Ph.D. in 1987, he spent five years at the Max-Planck Institute for Meteorology in Germany, where he worked on the development and application of climate fingerprinting methods. In 1998, he was selected for the MacArthur Foundation's Fellows Program ("genius grant"). In 2011, Santer was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, and a fellow of the American Geophysical Union. He has also received the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award and a Distinguished Scientist Fellowship from the U.S. Department of Energy, and the Norbert Gerbier Award from the World Meteorological Organization.

Other events in the Discovery Park Distinguished Lecture Series

* March 21 (W): Gene Robinson, Swanlund Chair of Entomology; director, Institute for Genomic Biology; and director, Bee Research Facility; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Me to We: Searching for the Genetic Roots of Social Life." 11 a.m. Burton D. Morgan Center, Room 121.

* March 29 (Th): Bob Latiff, adjunct professor, University of Notre Dame; research professor, George Mason University; research and technology consultant, R. Latiff Associates; and major general (retired), U.S. Air Force. Lecture topic to be determined. 1:30-2:30 p.m. Burton D. Morgan Center, Room 121.

* April 3 (T): Eileen Claussen, executive in residence at the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business at Elon University. "Climate Change: 25 Years of Policy and Politics." 1:30 p.m. Pfendler Hall, Deans Auditorium (Room 241). -- CANCELED

* April 12 (Th): Bill McKibben, Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College; founder and senior advisor, 350.org. "Hot Times: Reports from the Front Lines of the Climate Fight." 7:30 p.m. Stewart Center, Fowler Hall.

For more information on upcoming presentations, visit the Discovery Park Distinguished Lecture Series website at www.purdue.edu/discoverypark/dls, or contact Maria Longoria-Littleton, Discovery Park engagement operations manager, at mlongori@purdue.edu.

Writer: Angie Roberts, akroberts@purdue.edu

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