Calendar of Activities

The 5th Annual John Carlson Lecture

The John Carlson Lecture communicates exciting new results in climate science to the general public. held at the IMAX theater at the New England Aquarium, free of charge, and open to the general public, the lecture is made possible by a generous gift from MIT alumnus John H. Carlson to the Lorenz Center at MIT.

"Watching Water: Nature's Field Guide to Weather and Climate"

Bjorn Stevens

Director, Max Planck Institute for Meteorology

Thursday, October 15, 2015
6:15 p.m. Community reception with educational activities and light refreshments
7:00 p.m. Lecture

New England Aquarium
Simons IMAX Theatre
Central Wharf
Boston, MA 02110

Register for the event on the New England Aquarium website

For additional information, please email Angela Ellis

Lecture Summary:

Water shapes our atmosphere. This seemingly simple molecule plays a defining role in some of the earliest recorded attempts to rationalize the cosmos, is resplendent in mythology, and has long been an element of folklore. In the late 19th century, watching water was a crucial component of the first systematic attempts to predict the weather. In the 20th century it became apparent that a comprehension of the global climate system is intimately linked to an understanding of water. What is it about the mighty water molecule that makes it so important? Can an understanding of a few key facts about water help one better comprehend our atmosphere, patterns of weather, climate and climate change?


Prof. Bjorn Stevens is a director at the Max-Planck-Institute for Meteorology where he leads the Atmosphere in the Earth System Department and is a professor (17) at the University of Hamburg. Prior to moving to Hamburg Dr. Stevens was a full professor of Dynamic Meteorology at the University of California of Los Angeles. He received a PhD in Atmospheric Science in 1996 from the Colorado State University in Ft Collins CO, and holds a Bachelor and Masters of Science in Electrical Engineering from Iowa State University.

Professor Stevens' research blends modeling, theory and field work to help articulate the role of aerosols, clouds and atmospheric convection in the climate system. He has made pioneering contributions to both understanding and modelling of mixing and microphysical processes and their impact on the structure and organization of clouds. Likewise his contribution to an understanding of how clouds respond to warming, and how radiative forcing responds to aerosol perturbations, has proven fundamental to our present comprehension of the susceptibility of Earth's climate to perturbations.

Prof. Stevens served as a lead-author of Chapter 7, "Cloud and Aerosols" for the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and co-leads the WCRP Grand Science Challenge on Clouds, Circulation and Climate Sensitivity. He is the lead principal investigator for the HD(CP)2 project, High Definition Clouds and Precipitation for Climate Prediction, a national project supported by the Germany Ministry of Education and Research.

Prof. Stevens serves on a number of international advisory boards, has served as editor of leading journals in his field and has been honored by a number of awards, including the Clarence Leroy Meisinger Award of the American Meteorological Society, as well as fellowships from the Advanced Study Program of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and the Alexander von Humboldt Society.