The distinguished climate scientist Dr. Aradhna Tripati, assistant professor at UCLA, was presented with the E.O. Wilson Award for her original research on past climate change through Earth’s history and ocean acidification. Among her many accomplishments, she developed a new method that enabled scientists to estimate CO2 levels in fossilized marine shells millions of years old with high statistical confidence and low uncertainty.
The approach and results have improved our understanding of the effects of different CO2 levels on historical climate change. This new tool can also be used to inform policy-makers of the effects of varying levels of CO2 pollution on the global distribution of plants and animals. Dr. TripatiI’s work was given high praise in a statement by the executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity.
We’re honored to present this award to Dr. Tripati, whose brilliant science gives climate deniers no wiggle room, demonstrating beyond doubt the links between carbon dioxide pollution, global climate change and the history of life on Earth. Her advocacy for using the knowledge of past climate change to prepare for the future provides us with an important tool for protecting the diversity of life that sustains us all.
Additionally, Edward O. Wilson, the award’s namesake and Professor Emeritus in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, said:
At this pivotal moment in Earth’s history, climate change poses one of the most dire threats to the preservation of biodiversity. I congratulate Dr. Tripati on her award and urge other scientists to follow her example in advocating for reduced carbon emissions to safeguard the stable climate conditions on which all life on Earth depends.
Her research provides convincing evidence that CO2 is linked historically with shifts in plant and animal ranges, ice distribution, and sea levels among other important phenomena. She said this about the award and her mentor:
“I’m honored to receive an award named for one of the true giants of modern science. E. O. Wilson’s pioneering work helped inspire my own research, and his lyrical descriptions of our planet’s incredible biodiversity also highlight how much is at stake as global warming begins to alter our world. My great hope is that science can help us preserve a livable climate.
Her research found that the last time CO2 levels were as high as they are now (about 400 ppm) was about 15 to 20 million years ago. This period is known as the Miocene warming—an epoch when global temperatures were 5 to 10 degrees (F) warmer, the sea level was 75 to 120 feet higher, and the distribution of plants and animals was much different from the pattern seen today.
Here’s Aradhna in a December 2013 interview. Brilliant!