Meeting Information

Earth’s Changing Sea Ice Coverage and Its Connections with Broader Climate Change and Geoengineering

April 20, 2016
The American Center for Physics
College Park, MD

Date: Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Speaker: Claire L. Parkinson, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Topic: Earth’s Changing Sea Ice Coverage and Its Connections with Broader Climate Change and Geoengineering

Time and Location: 1:00 PM, with Q&A to follow; in a 1st floor conference room at the American Center for Physics (, 1 Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD - off River Rd. Between Kenilworth Ave. and Paint Branch Parkway.

Abstract: Satellite passive-microwave technology has allowed the routine monitoring of polar sea ice coverage since the late 1970s. This record has revealed a decreasing Arctic sea ice cover that is in line with Arctic warming and an array of other Arctic environmental changes. It also reveals an increasing Antarctic sea ice cover that is more difficult to explain and illustrates the complexities of climate change. Both sea ice covers show considerable interannual and spatial variability, some of which can be directly tied to atmospheric weather conditions and the liquid oceans. Still, the overall sea ice extent trends are significant in both polar regions, with a negative 53,000 km2/year trend in the Arctic and a positive 22,000 km2/year trend in the Antarctic, for an overall negative 31,000 km2/year trend in global sea ice extents. The talk will present the sea ice results and discuss commonalities between the issues raised with the sea ice records and those raised with the global temperature records, concluding with concerns over some of the schemes proposed to modify climate change through intentional geoengineering.

Biography: Claire Parkinson is a climate scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, where she has worked since 1978 with a research focus on sea ice and its connections to the rest of the polar climate system and climate change. Since April 1993 she has also been Project Scientist for the Earth-observing Aqua satellite. Claire has written books on satellite Earth observations, climate change, and the history of science and has co-written books on Arctic sea ice, Antarctic sea ice, and climate modeling. She is also the lead editor of a book on NASA Earth science data products and a book on the careers of women at Goddard. Her 2010 book Coming Climate Crisis? Consider the Past, Beware the Big Fix reviews the long history of climate change and addresses the possibility of implementing potentially dangerous geoengineering projects. Claire has a B.A. in mathematics from Wellesley College, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi, and a PhD in climatology from Ohio State University. She was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering in 2009 and into the American Philosophical Society in 2010.