With the human population surpassing seven billion people, we are placing unprecedented pressure on the natural world. Never before has carbon dioxide accumulated in the air and oceans so rapidly. In just the past few decades, rising temperatures have reduced arctic sea ice cover by nearly half, glaciers large and small are in retreat, and sea level rise is accelerating.
Of greatest concern to society is how climate change will impact our quality of life and the fundamental resources upon which we rely: food, water, shelter and energy. In the pursuit of viable solutions, there is an urgent need to understand the effects of climate change on Earth’s living ecosystems and the physical systems that sustain us.
To meet these exceptional challenges, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory proposes to mobilize the world’s top scientists at the Center for Climate and Life.
Recent studies are a call for action. A tenth of the world’s population live in coastal areas impacted by rising seas and storm surge. Each degree of warming lowers crop yields by about 10 percent. Arctic ecosystems are changing faster than any place on the planet. Prolonged droughts and violent storms have become more frequent and severe, leading to heavy insurance losses. The oceans are acidifying at an unprecedented rate, yet we have little understanding of the impacts on marine life.
The scientific knowledge we provide will allow policy makers to address the risks facing society now and in the coming decades. With its tie to Columbia’s University’s Earth Institute and stature as a premier teaching and research institution, Lamont-Doherty is uniquely positioned to attract top talent from around the world.