KEGS Seminar - Climate Change: An Earth and Space Sciences Perspective


Dr. Tim Patterson 
Department of Earth Sciences, Carleton University

Tuesday, May 17th
4:30 p.m.  

Harrison Hall
Room 177
Geological Survey of Canada
601 Booth Street



The ultimate control over Earth’s climate is energy irradiance received from the Sun, without which the planet would be a cold frozen lump. At geologic time scales, variation in Earth’s climate is influenced by a myriad of factors including plate tectonics, ocean circulation patterns, mountain building, mantle degassing, Milankovitch-type cycles, etc.  Under scenarios promoted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) changes in atmospheric levels of CO2 is assumed to be the main driver of climate change.  At all scales in the geologic record though there is little correlation between atmospheric CO2 concentrations and global temperatures.  There are obviously other drivers of climate change that approach or supersede the influence of atmospheric CO2 on Earth’s climate system.  Modern evidence of the influence of other climate drivers is provided by the decoupling of atmospheric CO2 concentrations and global atmospheric temperature (the so-called ‘pause’ or ‘hiatus’) that has persisted since 1998.  Recent research suggests that energy variation across solar cycles at a variety of frequencies, which are amplified by a variety of ‘top down’ and ‘bottom up’ ocean-atmosphere responses and other amplifiers such as galactic cosmic ray flux, also have a significant influence on Earth’s climate system.   



Tim Patterson is a Professor (1988-present) in the Department of Earth Sciences, Carleton University, and holds a Ph.D. from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). He was appointed an International Fellow in the School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology at the Queen's University of Belfast in 2006. Patterson helped develop, and was a founding editor-in-chief (1997-2000) of the journal Palaeontologia Electronica, the world’s first, and longest running, open access, electronic paleontology-themed journal.  He has also served as an associate editor for various other journals including “Micropaleontology” and “Journal of Foraminiferal Research”. He served as Canadian leader for two UNESCO International Geological Correlation Programme Projects: (IGCP) #367 "Late Quaternary Coastal Records of Rapid Change"; and #495 "Quaternary Land-Ocean interactions".
Patterson has made more than 300 scholarly contributions, including 155 peer-reviewed research papers. He has been continuously funded by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Operating-Discovery grants since arriving at Carleton, and has served as principal investigator for numerous multi-team member, multi-institution research initiatives through NSERC and the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences. He was awarded a 2002-2003 Carleton University Research Achievement Award for 'outstanding research'.  He is presently Co-PI on $700,000 Polar Knowledge Canada Grant (2015-2018) mandated to ‘develop new geoscience tools for assessing environmental risk assessment of metal mining in Canada’s North’.
Current research of Patterson and his team emphasizes analysis of trends and cycles in the climate record over the last several thousand years, primarily in Canada’s North. This research is mandated to increase predictive capacity and preparedness for current and future climate change, and impact on northern ecosystems. The future viability of heavy haul ice roads, and climate change influenced fluxes of metals to the environment are of particular concern. He has thus far graduated 29 students with advanced degrees, most of whom have gone on to successful careers in industry, government, and as university faculty.