Penn State Climatologist Michael Mann to Speak Jan. 17 at U.Va.

January 12, 2012 — Pennsylvania State University climatologist Michael Mann will present a talk, "The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches From the Front Lines," Jan. 17 at 1:45 p.m. at the University of Virginia's Clark Hall, room 108.

Mann, a former environmental science professor in U.Va.'s College of Arts & Sciences, is a prominent climate scientist best known for his 1998 "hockey stick" graph depicting a relatively stable global climate from the year 1400 (the hockey stick's "shaft") until a dramatic rise in temperatures during the 20th century (the stick's "blade"). The graph was intended as a simple illustration of the connection between climate change and human activities, particularly the burning of fossil fuels.

Mann's talk is the keynote address for EnviroDay, an annual student-run research symposium showcasing the breadth and depth of research conducted by students in U.Va.'s Department of Environmental Sciences. Students will give oral and poster presentations of their research in a range of areas, such as gypsy moth invasions, heat-related mortality in cities, vegetation changes in arctic regions, and many other topics.

The oral presentation sessions will be held from 9:45 to 11:45 a.m. and from 4 to 5 p.m. in Clark Hall, room 108. The poster session opens at noon in the Clark Hall Mural Room. From 3 to 3:45 p.m., Mann will sign copies of his book, "Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming," in the Clark Hall lobby. A reception will be held at 5:15 p.m. in the Clark Hall Odum Room.

At Penn State, Mann holds joint positions in the departments of Meteorology and Geosciences and with the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute. He also is director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center.

His research involves the use of theoretical models and observational data to better understand Earth's climate system.

Mann's "hockey stick" reconstruction has become flashpoint in the debate between scientists who conclude that humans are affecting the climate and those who question that conclusion. During his address, he said he will "tell the story behind the hockey stick, using it as a vehicle for exploring broader issues regarding the role of skepticism in science, the uneasy relationship between science and politics, and the dangers that arise when special economic interests and those who do their bidding attempt to skew the discourse over policy-relevant areas of science."

James Galloway, associate dean for research in the College, will introduce Mann.

"Mike has been an extremely positive force in climate change science for a long time, and it is a pleasure to see that his analytical assessment has prevailed over that period," Galloway said. "It has not only provided a strong foundation for future advances in understanding how humans have altered the global climate, but also provides society with a scientific context to guide how society will address climate change."

Mann was a lead author on the Observed Climate Variability and Change chapter of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Third Scientific Assessment Report in 2001 and was organizing committee chair for the National Academy of Sciences Frontiers of Science in 2003.

He has earned numerous national and international awards, including a share of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with other Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change authors, and the 2012 Hans Oeschger Medal from the European Geophysical Union. He is the author of more than 140 peer-reviewed and -edited scientific papers and two books, "Dire Predictions" and the forthcoming "The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches From the Front Lines." He also is a co-founder of and regular contributor to the award-winning science website RealClimate.org.

Rosemary Malfi, an environmental sciences doctoral student who organized the event and invited Mann with the EnviroDay organizing committee, said: "Dr. Mann's endeavors to better understand the Earth's climate through models and the analysis of current and historical data is cutting-edge and very relevant to much of the research that is conducted by students in our environmental sciences department.

"He has earned a great deal of respect and admiration from the students in our department for his ability to endure and counter the political adversity he has faced in response to his research on climate change. He is an important spokesperson for the separation of politics and scientific pursuits."

— By Fariss Samarrai

Media Contact

Fariss Samarrai

University News Associate Office of University Communications