Registration is requested. All programs start at 7 p.m. in the Aquarium’s Simons IMAX® Theatre unless otherwise noted. Programs last approximately one hour. Most lectures are recorded and available for viewing on the lecture series archive page.
Fall 2017 Lectures
We are already looking forward to our next lecture series coming up this fall. Check back for the full schedule and list of upcoming speakers.
Extreme Events and Climate Change: What We Know and What We Can Do
Thursday, September 14
Ellen Marie Douglas, PE, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Hydrology, School for the Environment, University of Massachusetts Boston
This lecture is co-hosted by the League of Women Voters of Boston and Massachusetts and the University of Massachusetts Boston School for the Environment.
There are three truths that climate science tells us about what we can expect from climate change. The first is small changes in an average value, such as average global temperatures, will have bigger effects on the extremes. We have seen this play out in the extreme weather events that have wrought havoc across the nation and New England over the last decade or longer. Record-breaking events will always occur, but the time between these events should increase. Under climate change, records are getting broken in record time! The second truth is that our history of carbon dioxide emissions has embedded a certain amount of change into the climate system, to which we will need to adapt. The third truth is that if we don’t account for our changing climate in planning and designing, our plans and designs will be wrong. In this presentation, Ellen Marie Douglas will discuss observations of our changing climate, what changes may be in Boston’s future, and some plans for how to adapt to these changes.
Climate Change along the Western Antarctic Peninsula
Thursday, September 28
Scott Doney, Ph.D., Joe D. and Helen J. Kington Professor in Environmental Change, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia
The western Antarctic Peninsula is experiencing some of the most dramatic climate change on the planet and is a natural laboratory for studying how ocean ecosystems respond to climate. Rapid ocean-atmosphere warming, melting of coastal glaciers, and reductions in seasonal ice cover all echo throughout the marine food web from seawater chemistry, plankton, and krill to top predators, including penguins and marine mammals. Using the wealth of data from the Palmer Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) programs, the talk will highlight key lessons from field expeditions, autonomous robots, satellite remote sensing, and models regarding changing conditions in the Southern Ocean and Antarctic.
Facilitating Productive Dialogue about Climate Change
Wednesday, October 4
William Spitzer, Ph.D., Vice President, Programs, Exhibits, and Planning, New England Aquarium
We can all learn to start positive conversations about climate change. Educators and professional scientists affiliated with aquariums, zoos, and other museums from across the country are learning and helping to model the way with public audiences. We’ll share some key insights that you can use from social and cognitive sciences that are proving to be useful in shaping engaging, solutions-focused conversations.
Dr. William Spitzer, Ph.D., Vice President, Programs, Exhibits, and Planning at the New England Aquarium, will briefly review the history and evaluation that illustrates the positive impacts of the National Network for Ocean and Climate Change Interpretation (NNOCCI), a project led by New England Aquarium along with an interdisciplinary team of colleagues from several partner organizations. Dr. Spitzer will moderate a panel discussion with three educators from across the U.S. who participated in NNOCCI training programs. Panelists will share reflections from their experiences to illustrate how lessons about Strategic Framing have influenced their climate change communications. The program will offer some specific ideas as well as inspiration for people interested in talking about climate change in productive ways.
Crazy Weather and the Arctic Meltdown: How Are They Connected?
Thursday, October 19
Jennifer Francis, Ph.D., Research Professor I, Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University
Does it seem as though the weather gods have gone crazy lately? It is not your imagination. The question on everyone’s minds is why? And is it related to climate change? In this presentation, Dr. Jennifer Francis will explain new research that links increasing extreme weather events with the rapidly warming and melting Arctic during recent decades. Evidence suggests that Arctic warming is causing weather patterns to become more persistent, which can lead to extremes such as droughts, cold spells, heat waves, and some flooding events.
A Brief History of Environmental Successes
Thursday, October 26
Susan Solomon, Ph.D., Lee and Geraldine Martin Professor of Environmental Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
This is the seventh annual John H. Carlson Lecture, presented by Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lorenz Center and the New England Aquarium.
Humans have faced a series of national and global environmental challenges in the past half-century, including smog, the use of lead in gasoline, ozone depletion, and many others. Dr. Susan Solomon reveals how combinations of science, public policy, industry participation, and the engagement of citizens succeeded in addressing past environmental challenges. Solomon also probes how the lessons learned help us understand how to better manage today’s environmental problems, including climate change.
The scalloped hammerhead shark is an endangered species threatened by overfishing, bycatch, and the shark fin trade. Scientist Andres Lopez and his partner, Ilena Zanella, founded Misión Tiburón (Shark Mission) in Costa Rica to study and protect these charismatic animals. Through their years of research and tagging studies they have identified the sharks’ critical nursery habitats and helped to enact national and international conservation measures, including CITES listings, to better protect these animals. This work was supported in part by the New England Aquarium’s Marine Conservation Action Fund (MCAF). Lopez and Zanella have also engaged fishermen, communities, government officials, and schoolchildren in their conservation efforts, growing a vital and broad base of support for the sharks. Join us to hear MCAF Fellow Andres Lopez speak about his comprehensive approach to shark conservation in Costa Rica and his efforts to promote a shark sanctuary in Golfo Dulce, a critical nursery habitat on the country’s Pacific coast.
The MCAF Ocean Conservation Fellows Program is supported in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Changing Distributions of Large Whales: How Climate, Oceanography, and Biology Influence Movement of the Largest Animals on Earth
Wednesday, November 8
Dan Pendleton, Ph.D., Research Scientist, Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium
The mystery of how and why large whales know when and where to migrate has perplexed humankind for thousands of years – first in their attempts to hunt and kill them and now to save them from extinction and exploitation. Right and bowhead whales are among the largest animals on Earth, yet they feed on some of the smallest marine organisms, zooplankton. This connection through the food web dramatically highlights associations of species linked closely to climate-induced changes in the oceans, such as recent rapid warming of the Gulf of Maine. Large filter-feeding whales, as ecological sentinels, are therefore a highly visible sign of underlying ocean health and conditions. This lecture will explore pressing questions surrounding large whale conservation and describe cutting-edge quantitative methods being used to understand whale distributions in the Anthropocene.
Science Priorities for the North Atlantic Region – A NOAA Fisheries Perspective
Tuesday, November 14
Jon Hare, Science and Research Director, Northeast Fisheries Science Center
The mission of NOAA Fisheries is compelling and important. The agency is responsible for the stewardship of the nation’s living marine resources, including fisheries, aquaculture, protected species, habitats, and ecosystems. As Science and Research Director of the NOAA Fisheries Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC), Jon Hare is responsible for the Northeast U.S. Shelf Ecosystem, which extends from North Carolina to Maine and includes watersheds, estuaries, the continental shelf, and the open ocean. The ecosystem supports a wide array of living marine resources, from Atlantic sea scallops, one of the most valuable, to the North Atlantic right whale, one of the most endangered, to Atlantic cod, one of the most iconic. A set of science priorities will be described for the region. These priorities aim to better understand this complex ecosystem and ultimately improve the stewardship mission of NOAA Fisheries.