At MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS), we are driven to answer profound questions about the natural world and our place in the universe, and to address some of the greatest environmental challenges of our time. What causes climate change and how can we mitigate its impact? How do we quantify natural hazard and risk—can we predict earthquakes? How did life evolve on Earth and does it exist on other planets? How fast is the environment changing—are we approaching another mass extinction? We draw on fundamental research to guide policy while training the next wave of thought leaders who will help safeguard our future.
Four complementary themes drive our research:
EARTH. Examining the origin, evolution, and future of our planet, we investigate how landscapes form and how environmental systems like the oceans change over time. This fundamental research also allows us to address practical issues—like exploring for natural resources and safely extracting them from the ground, and expanding our ability to forecast, mitigate, and adapt to natural hazards.
PLANETS. Seeking to understand the Earth within the context of our solar system—and the universe beyond—we explore planetary accretion, magnetic fields, formation of climates and atmospheres, asteroid impacts, and the potential for life on planets orbiting distant stars.
CLIMATE. By delving into the history, mechanics, stability, and future trajectory of Earth’s climate, we study the boundaries and resilience of the entire climate system, revealing the complex interplay between atmosphere, oceans, land, ice, and life.
LIFE. Probing ancient rocks for biological signatures, we reconstruct prehistoric environments to understand how life evolved within them. Our discoveries explain how the biosphere affects climate, the causes of mass extinctions, and how ancient organisms shaped landscapes, while also developing techniques to detect life on other planets.
As MIT works toward a better world, the renovation and expansion of the iconic Cecil and Ida Green Building (Building 54) represents a unique opportunity to establish a central beacon for climate research and environmental innovation on campus. Home to EAPS for more than 50 years, the towering Green Building will be transformed to create a new hub for MIT’s Earth and environment programs, bringing together EAPS, ESI, and the MIT-WHOI Joint Program to inspire powerful action.
The creation of the Earth and Environment Pavilion, along with new EAPS climate science labs in Building 4, will:
• advance MIT’s mission to understand complex Earth and environmental systems and inform policy about climate change, pollution, and energy resources;
• accelerate campus-wide efforts to address today’s environmental challenges and the risks they pose to sustainable human life on Earth;
• enhance campus and student life with LEED-certified labs, classrooms, and meeting spaces to support the nexus of environmental innovation and learning; and
• keep MIT at the vanguard of Earth systems and climate science research.
To learn more about Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, or to support EAPS capital project or students, please contact: Megan Cokely, EAPS Senior Development Officer at 617-253-5796 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Life Stories: Whether scouring the geologic record for clues to ancient organisms, developing computational models to examine the interplay of the biosphere and climate, or peering through next-generation telescopes in the search for habitable planets beyond Earth, EAPS scientists seek to understand the intricate mechanisms of life.
Climate Conundrum: From studying tiny Antarctic microbes to designing tiny weather satellites; from mining massive datasets collected from the ocean and atmosphere to building massive global models, this issue is packed with stories of novel research and collaborations from the EAPS scientists and students working hard to hack the climate conundrum.
The World at our Fingertips: Over Earth’s 4.6 billion-year existence, change is the one constant. EAPS investigators are leveraging the latest technologies to conduct novel, discovery-driven research in order to understand the processes shaping our planet—including how we affect it.
The Outer Limits: Nothing sparks the imagination quitelike a star-studded view of the sky above. From distant stars and exoplanets to the asteroids and planetary bodies of our solar system, EAPS planetary scientists stand at the forefront of their field, driving innovations in techniques and technology to discover the origins of the universe.
All Facets of Life: Whether scouring the geologic record for clues to ancient organisms, developing computational models to examine the interplay of the biosphere and climate, or building next-generation telescopes in the search for habitable exoplanets, EAPS scientists seek to understand the intricate mechanisms of life.
The Climate Issue: As a global leader in climate science EAPS is unique in its interdisciplinary approach. This issue of EAPS Scope is packed with stories about how our broad range of research and collaboration are helping us gain a deeper understanding of the history and future of climates—from here on earth to planets far, far away.