APL Colloquium

March 21, 2003

Colloquium Topic: Two Grand Challenges of Climate Research

Two years after the release of the Third Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment, six years after the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, 14 years into the US Global Change Research Program, and 25 years after the initiation of the DOE Carbon Dioxide Research program, the entire global change community is rethinking its agenda. This rethinking has been driven by many considerations, but most importantly by the increasing recognition that both understanding climate change and mitigating its causes are far more difficult than anticipated. This presentation will cover two major challenges of climate research. The first is the vexing problem of the treatment of clouds in climate models. Our lack of knowledge here prevents us from coming to a good understanding of the sensitivity of the climate system to changes in the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The second is the challenge of developing technology to mitigate carbon emissions. Here we are faced with the prospect of deploying major new technologies and supporting infrastructures on a global basis, and in an affordable way in a century or less. The two issues are curiously intertwined. The first sets the rate of change of climate, and the second sets the rate at which we are able to modify our behavior to limit such changes.

Colloquium Speaker: Gerald M. Stokes

Dr. Gerald M. Stokes is the Director of the Joint Global Change Research Institute, a collaborative enterprise created by the Pacific NW National Laboratory (PNNL) and the University of Maryland. Previously he has served as an Associate Laboratory Director of PNNL, responsible for the Environmental and Health Sciences Division, the basic research division of PNNL. He also has held a variety other scientific and management positions during his 25-year tenure at PNNL. He was the Chief Scientist of Department of Energy’s Atmospheric Radiation Measurement program from 1990-1998, a major climate research program. He served on the National Committee on Science Education Standards and Assessment. He has also served as the President of the Board of the Columbia River Exposition of History Science and Technology and on the board of the Association for the Advancement of Science through Astronomy. He holds a BA in Physics from the University of California at Santa Cruz and both Ph.D. and Masters in Astronomy and Astrophysics from the University of Chicago. His primary research interests include climate and the design of large-scale field research facilities. He has authored or co-authored more than 80 journal articles, book chapters, and reports on topics including comets, the interstellar medium, atmospheric spectroscopy and energy utilization. He is an Adjunct Professor in the Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center and is a member of Sigma Xi, the American Geophysical Union and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.