UW News

November 29, 2001

Cold oceans lecture to kick off lecture series

News and Information

Science’s race to observe the state of the Arctic in the face of looming climate change is the subject of a free, public lecture, Exploring the Cold Oceans of the North, by UW oceanographer Peter Rhines. The talk is at 7 p.m., Dec. 5, in 210 Kane.

Rhines’ ocean expeditions to Labrador and Greenland show that the Far North is experiencing extreme changes following strong, early signs of global warming. A surge of fresh water is moving through ice-choked passages out of the Arctic, which could slow ocean circulation and affect climate and ecosystems worldwide. The Inuit people of northern Canada, no strangers to extreme environments, are facing rapid and enigmatic change in their world.

His talk is the first of three in the “Oceans to Stars Lecture Series” offered by the UW’s College of Ocean and Fishery Sciences and School of Oceanography. Techniques developed by oceanographers to scrutinize, for example, microorganisms thriving in the frigid north and other extreme environments may lead to new ways to look for life on other planets and moons.

The series continues Jan. 23 with a talk by UW Professor John Delaney about Project Neptune, a plan to create a seafloor observatory that encompasses an entire tectonic plate, and Feb. 27 with a lecture by Assistant Professor Virginia Armbrust. Both lectures will be at 7 p.m. in 210 Kane. More information is available by calling 206-543-6605 or from http://www.cofs.washington.edu/oceanlecture.html.

Along with his sea-going projects, Rhines oversees UW’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory where scientists study the circulation of ocean and atmosphere – and the atmospheres of the outer planets – using miniature “oceans” and “planets.”