Kendall Memorial Lecture

Tuesday, April 18, 2017 - The 16th Annual Henry Kendall Memorial Lecture

Dr. Thomas R. Karl, Former Director, U.S. NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information  (retired in August 2016) [more info]

"Climate Data: Mysteries, Wonders, and Reality"

5:00pm to 6:30pm  MIT Stata Center, Building 32, Room 123

Abstract: Climate data comes in a rich variety of quality with varying time and space resolutions.  Although increasing volumes of climate data are now generated by computer models, scientists are totally dependent on active and passive methods to reconstruct the state and changing state of the climate.  Such measurements are directly linked to our ability to simulate and predict climate.  Active measurements come from modern-day observing systems of varying quality, while passive measurements from proxy data, such as paleoclimate tree-rings, ice-cores, ocean and lake sediments and many others are used to extend our understanding of long-past climates. The mystery behind climate observations stem from the fact they require careful understanding of their limitations and usefulness. This stems from a variety of reasons including: international sharing of data, calibration history, power outages and constraints, changes in observing protocols by the system operators, varying amounts of metadata describing the operation of the observing system, time and space sampling size and averaging times, the environment affecting the measurements, among other factors. [MORE...]

 

Henry Kendall photo

The Henry W. Kendall Memorial Lecture Series honors the memory of Professor Henry W. Kendall (1926-1999) who was the J.A. Stratton professor of physics at MIT. Professor Kendall received the Nobel Prize in 1990 for research that provided the first experimental evidence for quarks. He had a deep commitment to understanding and finding solutions to the multiple environmental problems facing the world today and in the future. The permanently endowed Kendall Lecture allows MIT faculty and students to be introduced to forefront areas in global change science by leading researchers. A founding member of the Union of Concerned Scientists in 1969, he served as its chair for 25 years. Prof. Kendall was deeply involved with arms control and nuclear power safety issues. He played a leading role in organizing scientific community statements on global problems, including the World Scientists' Warning to Humanity in 1992 and the Call for Action at the Kyoto Climate Summit in 1997. His publications included, "Energy Strategies: Toward a Solar Future" (1980), "Beyond the Freeze" (1982), "Fallacy of Star Ways" (1985), and "Crisis Stability and Nuclear War" (1988). He received the Bertram Russell Society award in 1992, the Environmental Leadership award from Tufts University's Lincol Filene Center in 1991, the Ettore Majorana-Erice Science for Peace prize in 1994, the Award for Leadership in Environmental Stewardship from the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future in 1997 and the Nicholson Medal for Humanitarian Services from the American Physical Society in 1998.

Past Lectures:

  • 2015: Professor Jochem Marotzke, Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg [more info
    Recent Global Temperature Trends: What Do They Tell Us About Anthropogenic Climate Change? [news story]

     
  • 2014: Professor Richard Alley, Penn State University [more info
    Ice Sheets and Sea Level: Is the Long Tail Attached to a Dragon? [news story and video]

     
  • 2013: Drew T. Shindell, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies [more info]
    How Air Pollution Affects Climate & What We Can Do About It [news story]

     
  • 2012: Jonathan Foley, Director,  Institute on the Environment, University of Minnesota [more info]
    How Can We Feed a Growing World and Sustain the Planet [video]

     
  • 2011: Lisa P. Jackson, Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency  [more info]
    The State of Environmental Protection in the Nation  [news story]

     
  • 2010: David Battisti, Tamaki Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington [more info]
    Geoengineering Climate on a Regional Scale

     
  • 2009: Lonnie Thompson, University Distinguished Professor, School of Earth Sciences, and Senior Research Scientist, Byrd Polar Research Center [more info]
    Global Climate Change: A Paleoclimate Perspective from the World's Highest Mountains

     
  • 2008: Veerabhadran Ramanathan, Distinguished Professor of Climate and Atmospheric Sciences, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego [more info]
    Global and Regional Climate Change: Underlying Science and Emerging Riddles [video]

     
  • 2007: Stephen H. Schneider, Professor for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies, and Co-Director, Center for Environmental Science and Policy, Stanford University [more info]
    Uncertainties in Climate Forecasts: Causes, Magnitudes and Policy Implications [video]

     
  • 2006: Jerry M. Melillo, Co-Director and Senior Scientist, The Ecosystems Center, Marine Biological Laboratory [more info]
    Changes in the Land: Environmental Stresses and the Terrestrial Biosphere's Capacity to Store Carbon [video]

     
  • 2005: Martin Claussen, Professor of Climate Physics, and Managing Director, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Potsdam University [more info]
    Vegetation Dynamics and the Earth System [video]

     
  • 2004: George M. Woodwell, Director and Senior Scientist, Woods Hole Research Center [more info]
    DISRUPTION: Climatic and Political [text (PDF)]

     
  • 2003: Pamela Matson, Professor of Environmental Studies, Stanford University [more info]
    Agricultural Intensification in the Yaqui Valley, Sonora, Mexico: Will it 'Save Land for Nature'

     
  • 2002: Inez Fung, Professor of Atmospheric Science, University of California, Berkeley [more info]
    The Global Carbon Cycle: Then, Now, and What's Next

     
  • 2001: Jane Lubchenco, Professor of Zoology, Oregon State University [more info]
    Seas the Day: New Science for Navigating Unchartered Waters