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Climate change: a view from the past

Cambridge Earth Sciences Alumni Panel Discussion, 6:30pm Tuesday 22 November 2016
When Nov 22, 2016
from 06:30 PM to 09:00 PM
Where The Geological Society, London
Contact Name
Contact Phone 01223 333442
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Earth Sciences alumni are warmly invited to join us for our second annual panel discussion at The Geological Society, London. Our expert panellists will give short talks followed by questions from the floor. Afterwards there will be drinks and canapés in the Lower Library, and a chance to meet fellow alumni and the panel informally.

Venue: The Geological Society, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BG

Date: 6:30pm, Tuesday 22 November 2016

Cost: £20

Booking Info:  Book your place online.  Bookings close on 16 November. For further information, email

Additional Info:  Drinks and canapés will be available after the discussion in the Lower Library.  The event will finish at 9pm.

Climate change is one of the news topics of our time.  Our knowledge about what will happen in the future is based on physics, but is grounded in observations of how and why climate has changed in the past.

The Cambridge Earth Sciences department includes world-leading experts in records of climate change and carbon cycling embedded in rocks, marine sediments, ice cores and other archives.  They will convey their excitement about understanding the planet’s climate mechanics, and discuss their plans for future work.  They will be able to set future change in a context of those they observe in the geological record.

Among the topics they will consider are:

  • How has Earth responded to, and recovered from, perturbations to the carbon cycle in the past? How does the scale and speed of the present manmade change compare to those past events?
  • Did past climate change affect ancient civilisations?
  • What happened to sea level when the polar regions were warmer than present?
  • What has pushed the Earth into much warmer and much colder climates than present?
  • What Earth Science research would best inform the debate about how to respond to future climate change?

The Panel

The panel will be chaired by Lord Oxburgh KBE.

Lord Oxburgh

Ron Oxburgh is a Crossbench (Independent) member of the House of Lords. At various times he has been Head of the Cambridge Department of Earth Sciences, Chairman of Shell Transport and Trading, Chief Scientific Adviser to the Ministry of Defence and President of Queens’ College. His interests range from the tectonics of mountainous regions to climate change and energy policy.

Professor David Hodell

David uses sediment cores collected from lake and ocean bottoms to reconstruct past changes in Earth's climate, oceans, and environment.  He is engaged in research to understand the physical mechanisms responsible for the Great Ice Ages and has a longstanding interest in how ancient civilizations were affected by past climate change. David is Woodwardian Professor of Geology at Cambridge.

Professor Eric Wolff

Since graduating as a chemist, Eric has spent 30 years studying ice cores from Antarctica and Greenland, using them to understand changing climate, as well as changing levels of pollution in remote areas.  Until 2013, he led a science programme at the British Antarctic Survey.  He chaired the science committee of the European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica (EPICA), which produced 800,000 year records of climate from the Dome C (Antarctica) ice core and co-chairs the international initiative (IPICS) to coordinate future ice core research.  His main research goal is to understand the causes of climate evolution over recent glacial cycles. Eric is a Royal Society Research Professor in the Department of Earth Sciences at Cambridge and was elected FRS in 2010.

Dr Alexandra (Sasha) Turchyn

Sasha, a Cambridge University Reader in Biogeochemistry, is a geochemist who uses the chemical properties of sediments and fluids to understand how the carbon cycle works both now and over Earth’s history. Her research focuses on how the microbial biosphere (bacteria and archaea) impact the carbon budget in sedimentary environments and how this biology may have functioned early in Earth history.

Alexandra Maskell

Since graduating with B.Sc in Geology from the University of Western Australia, Alex has been studying for a PhD in the Department of Earth Sciences at Cambridge. She is researching the carbon dioxide system at Green River, Utah, where natural CO2 has seeped up fault zones into deep sandstone reservoirs. This natural analogue is helping to assess the viability of carbon capture and storage schemes required to last for at least 10,000 years. Geological carbon storage offers an economical and practical way for society to manage its transition to a low carbon economy.

Notifications for this event were sent by email only: do let Alison know, at , if you would like to be added to the mailing list for similar events in the future.


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