‘Greenland Ice on the Scales: the Geologic Perspective’ at Burpee Feb. 19

ICESat measurements of elevation of Greenland show changes in the elevation over the Greenland ice sheet. Changes in the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are critical in quantifying forecasts for sea-level rise. This image of Greenland shows the changes in elevation over the Greenland ice sheet between 2003 and 2006. The pink and red regions indicate a slight thickening, while the blue and purple shades indicate a thinning of the ice sheet. Overall, the ice sheet is losing mass and contributing to sea-level rise, faster now than 10 years ago. (Image courtesy of nasa.gov)

Online Staff Report

Rockford’s Burpee Museum of Natural History will present “Greenland Ice on the Scales: The Geologic Perspective” at 2 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 19, at the museum, 737 N. Main St. Speaker will be Anders Carlson, Ph.D.

The response of Earth’s remaining ice sheets to global warming is the greatest uncertainty in predicting future sea-level rise. The geologic record of past ice-sheet behavior can inform on ice-sheet sensitivity to a warming climate and, thus, provide constraints on future sea-level rise.

Carlson will discuss the behavior of the Greenland Ice Sheet during the last interglaciation, about 125,000 years ago, when global sea-level was at least 4 m above present.

Carlson will show that at most, one-half of this sea-level rise came from Greenland, and thus Antarctic ice had to be smaller than it is today, raising concern about its future stability in a warming world.

This talk is recommended for middle school age and older.

The lecture is free to members, free with paid admission, or $5 for the lecture only. Offsite parking is available at Stepping Stones.

Carlson will relate his research about the Greenland Ice Sheet to the climate changes we are currently seeing. He will also share what research is like in Greenland, where in late June, the only store in a town had empty shelves since the supply ship had not yet arrived from Denmark. The community had not received any food or supplies since the last ship arrived in the fall before the ice set in.

Carlson, an international research scientist, received his Ph.D. in 2006 from University of Oregon in marine geology and geophysics. His master’s in geology is from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is a graduate of Augustana College, Illinois (2000), and of Rockford Lutheran High School (1996).

After receiving his Ph.D., he was a postdoctoral scholar at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He is an assistant professor in the Department of Geoscience at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He teaches environmental geology, geomorphology and structural geology field methods, glacial geology, paleoceanography and paleoclimatology.

Carlson has been invited to give scientific talks at Oregon State University, Tulane University, Harvard University, Princeton University, University of Bristol, U.K., SCAR Open Science Meeting, Buenos Aires, Argentina, University of British Columbia, Canada, Penn State University, ESF Ocean Controls in Abrupt Climate Change, Austria and Boston University. He is a public outreach speaker at local museums, schools and after-school programs, including participation in a scientific pen-pals program with sixth-grade students in Maple Avenue Middle School, Littlestown, Pa.

Carlson has had more than 30 articles published in a variety of scientific journals, including Science, Nature Geoscience, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Geology, and Nature Education and more than 85 scientific abstracts.

As a graduate student, Carlson received awards from University of Wisconsin, Oregon State University, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and Geological Society of America. Since 2008, he has received and managed more than $1.5 million in grant research money.

Carlson’s talk will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Lecture Series in Memory of Steve Ellis. Ellis died Nov. 5, 2011. He was active on numerous community boards in Rockford. He was especially active with the Burpee Museum, having served many years on the board, most recently as chairman of the Governance Committee, with particular interest in exhibits and programs on natural history for the community.

Posted Feb. 17, 2012

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