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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Earth Transformed: Talks on climate change

    This year marks the 10-year anniversary and 11th lecture series presented by the UA College of Science. The series, which began in the spring of 2006, focuses on a different topic each year. This year’s series, titled “Earth Transformed,” will discuss the impact of global climate change on the Earth with lectures examining the physical aspects of climate change and discussing what humans can do to reduce their role in the process.

    The series includes seven lectures that began Jan. 25 and continue through March 7. All of the lectures will take place in Centennial Hall.

    Dean Joaquin Ruiz of the college of science has been involved with the series since its beginning.

    Ruiz explained the series originally started as part of a reaction to a 2005 court case in Pennsylvania, where a federal judge ruled it unconstitutional for a school district to present intelligent design as another possibility to evolution in its high school biology classes. The first series in spring of 2006 focused on the topic of evolution.

    “We felt it was important for people to understand that evolution is science,” Ruiz said. “We put together the series expecting 100 people to show up, but 500 people showed up”.

    The lecture series has continued to grow since then, and as of several years ago began offering opportunities for professional growth to educators in the community. A graduate-level class is offered to K-12 educators and focuses on the series and emphasizes applying that material to classrooms.

    Dr. John Pollard, an associate professor in the department of chemistry and biochemistry, has been in charge of this program for six years. He explained that the program aims not only to develop content from the lectures into lesson plans, but also to aid in teachers’ “own personal professional development in the sense that it really helps to energize the teachers and get their geek on about science.”

    This is also the first year of the QA Science student program, started by Pollard. This program involves live-streaming each lecture into the Environmental and Natural Resources 2 building’s main lecture hall and bringing the lecturers over to answer questions after they speak in Centennial Hall. The lecturers will then participate in a 45-minute Q&A session with university students and the teachers in the Educators program. Pollard wanted to start the program after noticing the main lecture in Centennial Hall was filled mostly with community members.

    “Because Centennial Hall is already full, I thought ‘what if we set up something that was sort of like a student section?’” Pollard said. “Almost like ZonaZoo, but for science”.

    The first opportunity to participate in this program occurred Monday. Dr. Joellen Russell, an associate professor of geosciences at the UA and an 1885 Society Distinguished Scholar, presented the first lecture of the series titled “Ocean’s Role in Climate: Heat and Carbon Uptake in the Anthropocene.”

    The lecture included a discussion on the importance of the Southern Ocean’s role in climate change, advances in collecting that information and Dr. Russell’s plan for how to use that information to reduce carbon emissions.

    “Two-thirds of all of the extra anthropogenic human-derived warming is going into the Southern Ocean,” Russell said. Due to the winds and Coriolis effect in that part of the globe, the Southern Ocean is storing this heat. Unfortunately, heat is not all it is storing. Russell said the Southern Ocean is also responsible for taking up about half of all the oceanic uptake of carbon.

    The next lecture, “Climate Change and Global Food Security” presented by David Battisti of the University of Washington, will take place Feb. 1 at 7 p.m. in Centennial Hall.

    Follow Hannah Dinell on Twitter.

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