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Public Lecture Series with Stephen Pekar

Looking Back to Our Future: Exploring Climate Change on the Newly Named Eighth Continent, Zealandia

Geologist and paleo climatologist Dr. Stephen Pekar will discuss some of the groundbreaking discoveries on climate change, drawn from his latest expedition to the newly named eighth continent of Zealandia as well as from some his Antarctic scientific trips that have rewritten Earth’s glacial history. Last summer, Dr. Pekar was selected to be on an International Ocean Discovery Expedition, and while carrying the Explorer’s Club flag, he joined a team of thirty scientists from around the world that drilled sediments cores from six locations on and near the newly named continent of Zealandia. To reach their scientific objective, drilling pipe had to be extended through over three miles of ocean water, recovering sediments up to 2,800 feet below the sea floor. The oldest sediments recovered were deposited over 68 million years ago, allowing the scientists to reconstruct the climate and geologic history of Zealandia back to the time of the dinosaurs.

Today’s greenhouse gases are predicted to rise (450-1000 pm) during this century to levels not seen in tens of millions or years. With CO2 rising rapidly due to anthropogenic fossil fuel use and changes in land use (e.g., cutting down forest, etc.), humanity has put our climate on a “hot plate” in an uncontrolled experiment. By “Looking Back to Our Future,” Dr. Pekar will also talk about how his science expeditions to Antarctica have rewritten our understanding of climate and ice-sheet evolution and how they may provide a glimpse for future global changes. Dr. Pekar’s uses sediments, microfossils (i.e., the shells made by one-celled organisms), and geochemical data obtained from cores, mostly drawn from deep-sea locations to peer back in time when the Earth existed under elevated greenhouse conditions.

Dr. Stephen Pekar is currently a geology professor in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Queens College (City University of New York) and an Adjunct Research Scientist Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. He has been on numerous international scientific expeditions around the world, including four expeditions to Antarctica, aimed at unlocking the secrets of past climate change. His 2008 expedition seismically imaged sediments up 2 kilometers the sea floor and up to 45 million years old near Antarctica. In 2010, he was one of eight U.S. scientists selected to be part of the International Ocean Discovery Program expedition, which drilled near the coast of Antarctica. Pekar’s expeditions have garnered international and national media attention. He has been on the PBS show NOVA and on the live TV streamed special “Climate Reality by Al Gore.”

Steve Pekar is a Queens native, growing up in the Rockaways and attending Queens College, first as a 20th century music composition major before receiving a BA in Education. He received his Ph.D. in Geology from Rutgers University and was a research scientist at Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University for three years, before becoming a professor at Queens College. He is enthralled with exploring, and learning about, new places and ideas. Dr. Pekar has traveled to nearly 60 countries in all “eight” continents, working in six countries—ranging from archeology in France, grape picking in Germany, movie extra in China, to house pianist in a restaurant in Israel.

Date: Monday, April 9

Time: 6:00 pm Reception, 7:00 pm Lecture

Location: Club Headquarters, 46 E 70th Street, New York, NY, 10021

Member Ticket Price: $10

Guest Ticket Price: $25

Student Ticket Price: $5 with a valid student ID at the door

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