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May 1, 2008

Ocean circulation and future climate topics of May 8 lecture

Changes in ocean circulation and what they may mean for the climate in the future will be the subject May 8 of the UW’s Program on Climate Change’s seventh annual public lecture.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Carl Wunsch, whose work since the ’60s has led to new strategies and tools for observing the ocean, will talk about The Ocean and Climate Change: Exciting Stories, Realistic Problems and the Future.

The lecture, which is free, will be at 7 p.m. in 120 Kane. There is no registration for this event.

Ocean circulation is important in determining Earth’s climate in a variety of ways. Studying the climate of the distant past reveals a radically different climate from now, from times when much of the Earth was sheathed in glaciers to times when palm trees grew near the poles, Wunsch says.

“In this talk I will describe what we know of changes taking place in the ocean today and what our understanding of the modern ocean circulation tells us about the past, and potential future, climate states,” he says.

In addition to the evening lecture, Wunsch will speak at 3 p.m. May 7, in the Physics/Astronomy Auditorium on Global Ocean Circulation and it Variability: 1992-2006.

Ocean dynamics and climate is the unifying theme for this year’s lecture and the Program on Climate Change’s annual summer institute. This year’s institute will focus on “How does Ocean Circulation Matter for Climate Change?” David Battisti, professor of atmospheric sciences, Julian Sachs, associate professor of oceanography and Luanne Thompson, associate professor of oceanography and interim director of the Program on Climate Change will organize the event to be held Sept. 14-17.