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.
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.
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.
Dr. Solomon is internationally recognized as a leader in atmospheric science, particularly for her insights in explaining the cause of the Antarctic ozone “hole.” She and her colleagues have also made important contributions to understanding chemistry/climate coupling, including leading research on the irreversibility of global warming linked to anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions, and on the influence of the ozone hole on the climate of the southern hemisphere. Her current research focuses on both atmospheric chemistry and climate change.
The John Carlson Lecture communicates exciting new results in climate science to the public. The free and public lecture is made possible by a generous gift from MIT alumnus John H. Carlson to the Lorenz Center in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, MIT.
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 and his colleague Enrique Uribe speak about Misión Tiburón’s comprehensive approach to shark conservation in Costa Rica and their 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, Ph.D., 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.
Protecting Stellwagen Bank: A History of the Sanctuary – 25 Years and Moving Forward
Thursday, November 30
Richard Delaney (pictured at left), President and CEO of the Center for Coastal Studies, and Ben Haskell, Acting Superintendent of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary
More than 25 years ago, threats to an underwater bank at the mouth of Massachusetts Bay abounded. Construction teams considered the sand and gravel fair game for the Big Dig, and a developer posited a plan for a casino complex on an oil-rig-like platform. Luckily, whales, fish, and the backing of thousands of whale watchers, students, fishermen, and environmentalists sank those ideas. The productive region around Stellwagen Bank was designated a national marine sanctuary in 1992. Rich Delaney, Director of the Center for Coastal Studies (which nominated Stellwagen Bank for sanctuary status), had served as director of the Mass. Coastal Zone Management Office during the process to create a sanctuary. Ben Haskell, the sanctuary’s acting superintendent, leads a team of researchers and educators who work to understand and protect this special place. They will provide a retrospective of the first 25 years of New England’s only national marine sanctuary and a vision for the next 25 years.