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CSS Colloquium: Richard Staley, University of Cambridge / University of Copenhagen

From climatic variation to climate change: On the 1970s emergence of paleoclimatology, and arguments about global climate change

Info about event


Wednesday 4 May 2022,  at 14:15 - 15:45


Aud. D4 (1531–219)

This talk investigates the interrelations between natural findings, research and historical archives pertinent to the rise of paleoclimatology.  It outlines central features of the development of the paleoclimatologist community, and the significance of newly general arguments about climate change that were founded on the relations between temperature, sea level, insolation and carbon in the reconstruction of past climates from the 1970s. In particular, the talk draws on Nicholas Shackleton’s papers at the Royal Society. It reconstructs the making of the 1976 paper in which Hays, Imbrie and Shackleton argued that registers of oxygen isotopes and species abundance in specific sea sediment cores are evidence of periodic variations in sea level rise, and therefore of Milankovitch’s argument about the significance of insolation for earth’s glaciation. Shackleton’s correspondence, core files and conference notebooks show that the paper was conceived from its origins as a ‘classic’.

Biography: A historian of the physical sciences and anthropology at the universities of Cambridge and Copenhagen, Richard Staley leads a Leverhulme-funded project Making Climate History developing an account of the relations between making and knowing climate over the past two hundred years.

Coffee, tea, cakes and fruit will be served before the colloquium at 2 pm.