Our talk on February 20, 2010 was given by Prof. John Harte from the Energy and Resources Group at UC Berkeley, and was entitled “Predicting Climate Change on a Green Planet: The Daunting Challenge”.
Ecosystems and Climate are linked by feedback mechanisms that can hugely influence future global warming. Prof. Harte reviewed results from analysis of past climate change, from ongoing climate manipulations in ecosystems, and from observations of ecosystems along climate gradients, and showed that climate-ecosystem feedbacks are often large and positive. Because current IPCC projections do not include many of these feedbacks, future warming is likely to be considerably more intense than is currently anticipated. Unfortunately, there are huge gaps in our current understanding of future ecosystem responses to global warming, and therefore in our understanding of climate change itself.
Prof. Harte’s research focuses on the effects of human actions on, and the linkages among, biodiversity, ecosystem structure and function, and climate. He aims to understand the nature and causes of patterns in the distribution and abundance of species. He also studies the interaction between ecosystems and the process of climate change, and how the health of ecosystems impacts human well-being. Prof. Harte has received the Leo Szilard prize from the American Physical Society, the UC Berkeley Graduate Mentorship Award, and a Miller Professorship. He has served on six National Academy of Sciences Committees and has authored overed 170 scientific publications, including six books, on topics including biodiversity, climate change, biogeochemisty, and energy and water resources. You can watch the video of his talk by clicking on the image below.