MIT Club of Cape Cod Presents: Implications of Climate Change in the Arctic

Professor John Eichelberger, PhD (EAPS Alum)
Wednesday, January 13, 2021 - 7:00pm to 8:00pm
Virtual via Zoom

Register HERE

The Arctic and Antarctic are more different than literal polar opposites. Antarctic is a thermally isolated continent. The Arctic is a thermally isolated ocean. Antarctic's only human inhabitants are scientific visitors. The Arctic has been inhabited for thousands of years by Indigenous Peoples who developed the technology to adjust to a climate that killed many a White explorer. People of non-Indigenous heritage now reside in the warmer portions of the Arctic or operate extractive industries on a fly-in/fly-out basis.

Both poles are warming much faster than mid to equatorial latitudes, but the impact to humans is more immediate and direct in the Arctic region. Dramatic loss of sea ice is opening the Arctic to more resource extraction, direct shipping between Europe and eastern Asia, and cultural distortion by tourism. Rapid coastal erosion is requiring relocation or abandonment of entire Native villages. Thawing of permafrost threatens infrastructure Arctic-wide.

By the end of the century, Earth will have a new open ocean, for good or for ill.

Our presenter is Professor John Eichelberger, whose career has spanned both fire and ice. He earned both an SB and an SM in course XII MIT '70, and PhD Geology Stanford '74. He started work at Los Alamos in the Energy Division, then went to Sandia National Laboratories Geosciences Division in 1979. In 1991 he joined the University of Alaska Fairbanks, becoming Professor of Volcanology. Between 2007 and 2012 he moved south to be the Program Coordinator at the US Geological Observatory's Volcano Hazards Program. In 2012 he returned to Fairbanks to become the Dean of the Graduate School, while also serving at the University of the Arctic as their Academic Vice President until May 2017.

Career notes:

  • He is well known for work with the mixing and degassing of magmas, which was considered so heretical in the US that he had to publish in Nature instead of in Science.
  • "Professor of Volcanology" would not have passed the laugh test before Mount St. Helen.
  • By accident, he was not present at the St. Helen's eruption, so he is now still an active researcher instead of a permanent part of the landscape.
  • In 2015 he was awarded the Sergey Soloviev Medal of the European Geosciences Union for international hazards work.

If you're interested in the fire side of John's work, Professor Eichelberger has kindly provided us with a PDF of the special edition of Geosciences, which he edited, on magma-hydrothermal systems. You can also Google the term John Eichelberger magma. You'll get links ranging from a 2 minute PBS educated layperson explanation of what makes a volcanoes erupt, to an hour and a half talk on finding magma only 2.5 Km below your feet (spoiler alert - do your drilling in calderas). This latter link has a Brit doing a 3 minute introduction in Spanish.

Contact Information

Primary Contact

Brian Hughes

Secondary Contact

Michael Golan