Glaciologist who studies climate change is Ridington lecturer

January 29, 2008

Lonnie Thompson, Distinguished University Professor at Ohio State University’s School of Earth Sciences, will present the annual Ridington Lecture, “Understanding Climate Change“ at 8 p.m. Feb. 7 in McDaniel Lounge. Thompson studies climate change by examining ice in ancient glaciers.

The lecture is free and open to the public. For more information, call 410-857-2294.

Thompson, one of the world's foremost authorities on paleoclimatology and glaciology, has led more than 50 expeditions during the last 30 years, conducting ice-core drilling programs in the world's polar regions as well as in tropical and subtropical ice fields. From the ice cores, he is able to determine the air temperature at the time the ice was formed.

Thompson's research shows that the Earth shifted to a cooler climate 5,000 years ago and is currently shifting to a warmer climate. His lecture will discuss the current warming trend and glacial retreat.

“The ongoing global scale, rapid retreat of mountain glaciers is not only contributing to global sea-level rise, but threatening freshwater supplies in many of the world's most populous regions,” says Thompson. “[I will discuss] the current and present danger posed by ongoing climate change and the human response.”

Thompson has received numerous honors and awards. In 2005, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences and was awarded the John and Alice Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement. He has been selected by Time magazine and CNN as one of "America's Best" in science and medicine. His research has been featured in hundreds of publications, including National Geographic and the National Geographic Adventure magazines. He and his team are the subject of the book “Thin Ice: Unlocking the Secrets of Climate in the World's Highest Mountains” by Mark Bowen. Additionally, he served as a consultant on Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth.”

In 2006, Thompson was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society, was made an alumni member of Phi Beta Kappa and received the Roy Chapman Andrews Society 2007 Distinguished Explorer Award. In 2007, he was awarded both the Seligman Crystal, the highest professional award in Glaciology and the National Medal of Science, the highest honor that the United States can give to an American scientist.

The William and Edith Ridington Annual Lectureship honors two long-time teachers at the College and friends of the campus. William Ridington joined the full-time faculty in 1938 and retired in 1973, while Edith began a 20-year career as an adjunct lecturer in 1957. After the Ridingtons’ deaths, their family endowed the series, which began in 1991.