Niels Bohr Lecture by Raymond Pierrehumbert

Title: New Worlds, New Climates

Abstract: The past decade has witnessed the birth of what amounts to a new field of science: comparative planetology based on characteristics of newly discovered extrasolar planets. The pace of discovery has accelerated, with the release of over a thousand new planet candidates from the first year of the Kepler mission alone. 

These new worlds provide an opportunity to revisit some classic problems in planetary climate, but also pose questions about the nature of planetary climate that climate physicists have never before had cause to think about. 

After providing an overview of the characteristics of the exoplanets discovered so far, I will discuss several examples of these new climate problems. These include: Climates of tide-locked worlds; Climates of planets orbiting faint red stars; Exotic spin states; Generalization of the silicate weathering thermostat; Habitability of "mini-Jupiters" beyond the conventional habitable zone.

About Raymond Pierrehumbert: Raymond Pierrehumbert is the Louis Block Professor in Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago, having earlier served on the atmospheric science faculties of MIT and Princeton. He is principally interested in the formulation of idealized models which can be brought to bear on fundamental phenomena governing present and past climates of the Earth and other planets. His recent research interests have included water vapor feedback, baroclinic instability, the Neoproterozoic Snowball Earth, the climate of Early Mars, and methane hydrological cycles on Titan. He has been director of the Climate Systems Center, a US National Science Foundation Information Technology Research project aimed at bringing modern software design techniques to the problem of climate simulation. He has also collaborated with David Archer on the University of Chicago's global warming curriculum.

He received an A.B. degree in Physics from Harvard, was then a Knox Fellow in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at Cambridge University, and completed his PhD on hydrodynamic stability theory at MIT, in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He was a lead author of the IPCC Third Assessment Report, and a co-author of the National Research Council study on abrupt climate change. He is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union.

Pierrehumbert studies the physics of climate, especially regarding the long-term evolution of the climates of Earth and Mars. He directs the Climate Systems Center, which was established with a $3.6 million grant from the National Science Foundation to develop software for rapidly conducting advanced climate simulations. Pierrehumbert was an author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Third Assessment Report (1997-2001). He also was a member of the National Research Council's Panel on Abrupt Climate Change and its Societal Impacts (2000-2001), and currently serves on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Panel on Abrupt change. Pierrehumbert was a Guggenheim Fellow in 1996-1997.

Pierrehumbert is the author of the textbook Principles of Planetary Climate, available from Cambridge University Press.