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Scripps Institute of Oceanography
ice core gas paleothermometry/abrupt climate change


Dr. Jeff Severinghaus is a professor of geosciences in the Geosciences Research Division at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego. His current research interests center on using trapped bubbles of gases contained in ice cores to track changes in ancient climate. Born in Kentfield, CA, on Aug. 26, 1959, Severinghaus received a bachelor's degree in geology from Oberlin College in 1983, a master's degree in geological sciences from UC Santa Barbara in 1988, and a PhD in geological sciences from Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in 1995. Severinghaus' analysis of isotopes of nitrogen and argon contained in Greenland ice core bubbles have revealed that the earth went through a period of rapid warming at the end of the last ice age, some 11,000 years ago. He found that the region experienced a 15-degree-Fahrenheit jump in temperature in less than a decade, the impact of which was felt throughout the Northern Hemisphere. His research raises the question of whether the addition of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels could also produce a rapid change in climate, rather than the slow, steady rise in temperature many computer models of global climate now predict. Severinghaus was awarded a Comer Science and Education Fellowship (2002), a Packard Foundation Fellowship (2001), a NOAA Climate and Global Change Graduate Fellowship (1992), and a University of California Regents Fellowship (1985).