12:04 p.m., Nov. 11, 2008----Richard Alley, Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences, and associate of the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute at Pennsylvania State University, University Park, will speak on “Ice Sheets Unplugged: The Future of Sea Level in a Warming World,” from 5-6 p.m., Friday, Nov., 14, in 123 Memorial Hall.
The lecture is one of the William S. Carlson International Polar Year Events, in honor of the former UD president who was active in polar research. The free lecture, co-sponsored by the departments of Geography and Geological Sciences, is open to the public and a catered reception will follow.
According to Alley, an acknowledged expert on global warming and sea level changes, the great ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica have responded to warming over the last century with a sea-level rise. If enough warming occurs within decades, it may trigger much more melting with major impacts on the world's coasts over the next centuries.
Just as flying buttresses help support the Gothic cathedrals of Europe, ice shelves on Greenland and Antarctica hold back the ice from the oceans, Alley says. Recent warming has weakened or removed some of the ice-shelf buttresses, allowing the ice sheets to flow into the ocean more rapidly and raise the sea level. Alley will discuss what we know and don't know about the future of ice sheets and sea level.
As part of the Department of Geography's Seminar Series, Alley also will speak on “Crayfish and Sea Ice and Floods from the Big Lakes and Things that Go Bump in the Cores: An Update on Abrupt Climate Change,” at 2 p.m., Friday, Nov. 14, in 206 Brown Laboratory.
Alley received his bachelor's and master's degrees in geology from Ohio Sate University and his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. His research involves tracking climactic records, flow behavior and sedimentary deposits of large ice sheets in order to help predict future changes in climate and sea level. He has worked in Antarctica, Greenland and Alaska.
Additionally, Alley has chaired the National Research Council's panel on abrupt climate change and participated in the United Nations intergovernmental panel on climate change--an entity that was co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. He has consulted with government officials and committees and members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, as well, on issues associated with global warming.
He is a fellow of the National Academy of Sciences and the author of The Two-Mile Time Machine, an account of climate change and ice cores, which was the chosen science book of the year by Phi Beta Kappa in 2001.