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INSTITUTE FOR SUSTAINABILITY, ENERGY, AND ENVIRONMENT
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS AT URBANA-CHAMPAIGN

Lectures, Seminars, Symposia, & Colloquia

The Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE) is a strong supporter of the University of Illinois’ educational mission — and that includes encouraging members of the campus community to attend lectures, seminars, symposia, and colloquia that will help them discuss and learn more about issues of sustainability, energy, and environment. This page features one-time talks and series of talks that promote that kind of learning. One example is the iSEE-hosted Charles David Keeling Lecture (see video). To check for individual events of interest, visit the Illinois Sustainability Calendar. Do you know of a series not listed here that would be of interest to iSEE website visitors? Please email us, and we’ll gladly consider adding it!

The Charles David Keeling Lecture

Named for Charles David Keeling, a 1948 graduate of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Illinois who was renowned for making extremely precise measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), this annual lecture explores topics of anthropogenic climate change.

As part of Earth Week 2017 events organized by iSEE, Illinois Atmospheric Sciences Professor Emeritus John E. Walsh, former Director of the NOAA/Alaska Cooperative Institute for Arctic Research, will deliver the 2017 Charles David Keeling Lecture from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 18, in the NCSA Auditorium. 

Title — “The Arctic: Ground Zero for Global Change”

Abstract — Climate change is happening faster and with more visible impacts in the Arctic than in most of the rest of the world. The Arctic is warming at a rate of about twice the global average. Arctic amplification of the warming arises from a number of processes, one of which is the albedo-temperature feedback triggered by the loss of ace and snow. We will diagnose the recent Arctic warming in terms of the key drivers, which include external forcing (greenhouse gases) as well as internal variability. Coastal communities and wildlife in the Arctic are especially vulnerable to the ongoing warming. However, climate change in the Arctic is not just a local problem, as what happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic. Sea level rise is augmented by the loss of ice from glaciers and the Greenland Ice Sheet, and there are indications that Arctic amplification affects the large-scale atmospheric circulation that impacts middle latitudes, especially during winter. The trajectory of the Arctic system, especially its ice and snow, varies strongly with the scenario of greenhouse gas emissions. In this respect, human actions can make a major difference in the future of the Arctic as well as the rest of the planet.

The Lecture is sponsored by the School of Chemical Sciences (SCS), the School of Earth, Society and Environment (SESE), the Department of Chemistry, the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, and the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE) at Illinois.

More about Walsh:

John Walsh is the Chief Scientist of the International Research Center and President’s Professor of Global Change at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. He is also the Co-Director of the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy. His research has addressed arctic climate and weather variability, with an emphasis on the role of sea ice and snow cover in weather and climate. Walsh was a lead author for the 2014 U.S. National Climate Assessment and for the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Prior to moving to Alaska in 2003, he spent 30 years on the faculty of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at Illinois, where he co-authored a textbook, Severe and Hazardous Weather. He is an Editor of the Journal of Climate and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society. He was awarded the 2016 Arctic Research Medal by the International Arctic Science Committee.

More About Keeling:

KeelingCDAfter receiving his Ph.D. in Chemistry from Northwestern in 1954, Keeling spent most of his career at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography until his death in 2005. As the first to confirm the accumulation of atmospheric CO2, he produced a data set now known widely as the Keeling Curve. To quote Charles Kennel, former Scripps Director, his measurements “are the single most important environmental data set taken in the 20th century.” Keeling also constructed one of the first models of the carbon cycle into which future man-made CO2 can be introduced to predict concentration levels in the air and water well into the next century. His first few years of measurements also demonstrated the now well-known seasonal cycle in atmospheric CO2 due to the “breathing” of the biosphere.

Past Keeling Lecturers:

  • 2016 — Christopher B. Field, Founding Director of the Carnegie Science Department of Global Ecology and Melvin and Joan Lane Professor for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies at Stanford University (Download a PDF of Field’s presentation here. And here is a link to the video of Field’s talk);
  • 2013 — Edward Maibach, Director of the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University;
  • 2011 — Susan Solomon, Adjunct Professor at the University of Colorado and an NOAA Scientist; and
  • 2010 — Ralph Cicerone, President of the National Academy of Sciences and Chair of the National Research Council.
CAS MillerComm Earth Week Lecture

iSEE is organizing a series of events for Earth Week in April 2017 on the theme of the global impacts of climate change.

Dr. Kim Cobb, ADVANCE Professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech, will deliver a CAS MillerComm Lecture from 4 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 20, at Spurlock Museum’s Knight Auditorium.

Cobb will present findings from recent field expeditions to Kiritimati Island that captured the extreme coral bleaching effects of the largest El Niño event ever recorded in the winter of 2015-16. Using a series of coral cores drilled from the modern reef, as well as a vast trove of fossil coral cores, to reconstruct a detailed history of El Niño activity in the central Pacific, Cobb will describe how climate change is contributing to severe coral bleaching and mortality. Coral has a symbiotic relationship with zooxanthellae, microscopic algae that live in coral tissues, offer a primary food source for the coral, and give them their color. Higher ocean temperatures put stress on this symbiotic relationship, and the algae leave the coral tissue — meaning the coral loses its color and is weakened and susceptible to disease without its major food source. The studies at Kiritimati will help improve understanding of what life after death looks like for a coral reef, the factors that influence coral survival after extreme bleaching events, and ways to better protect reefs.

The Center for Advanced Study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign hosts the MillerComm Lecture Series each academic year, and the lectures are supported by the Office of the Chancellor, Office of Equal Opportunity and Access, Office of the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, the George A. Miller Programs Committee and Peggy Harris Memorial Fund, The Council of Deans, The David Gottlieb Memorial Foundation, and The Graduate College.

ISTC Sustainable Seminar Series

ISTC_horiz_cmyk_cs4Each semester, the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC), a division of the Prairie Research Institute, puts on the Sustainability Seminar Series. ISTC’s goal is to offer “presentations by researchers, policy makers, and corporate executives on various topics related to sustainability, energy, and the environment. This series is an opportunity to share scientific research with peers in a relaxed, informal environment. Please feel free to bring a lunch. Seminars usually last about an hour and questions are welcome.” To read more about the Series and to see archives from past talks, visit the ISTC website. iSEE intends to post each scheduled event on the Illinois Sustainability Calendar.

International Food Security at Illinois (IFSI) Symposium

This full-day event sponsored by Food Security at Illinois (IFSI), highlights the unique capacities of the University of Illinois to improve food systems and help ensure that all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food to achieve their human potential.

The 2017 symposium is set for April 3-4 at the ACES Library, Information and Alumni Center on the University of Illinois campus. The theme is “Commercial Agriculture in the Tropical Environments,” and will address managing a variety of environmental challenges from biodiversity to climate change even as agricultural expansion in South America shows that the tropics can be highly productive in terms of grain production and agricultural intensification holds promise to reduce poverty and malnutrition among the many rural poor residing in tropical zones. This symposium will address the complex tradeoffs between environmental stewardship and agricultural intensification in the tropics. More info on the event here.

Read more about this event and see past presentations on the College of ACES Office of International Programs’ website.