Chapman Chair


Jürgen Kurths

Renowned German mathematical physicist Jürgen Kurths is the current Sydney Chapman Endowed Chair of Physical Sciences. He developed this schedule with an eye to interdisciplinary research and hopes that mathematicians, biologists, climate scientists, geoscientists, and scientists from many other disciplines will attend. The seminars are open to all levels from undergraduates to faculty.

Want to know more about sea level rise?

Learn from those who study it

As global warming continues, sea level rises because of added water from melting ice sheets and glaciers and the expansion of sea water as it warms. Top scientists from UAF and abroad will hold a series of informative talks over the course of the week to talk about the cutting edge and interdisciplinary research that looks at sea level.

Chapman Chair Schedule of Seminars

Monday, February 26
Elvey Auditorium 

14:00 Jürgen Kurths (Chapman Chair, UAF; PIK): Introduction
14:10 Bob Bindschadler (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center): The last mile: Helping decision makers use scientific knowledge (invited talk)
15:10 Regine Hock (GI, UAF): Declining mountain glaciers: Do they matter for sea-level rise?
15:30 Coffee Break in the Globe Room
15:50 Jeff Freymueller (GI, UAF): Sea level change is not the same everywhere: the geophysical “fingerprints” of sea level.
16:10 Chris Maio (Dept. Geosciences, UAF): Development of palaeo-proxy records of relative sea-level change
16:30 Igor Polyakov (IARC, UAF): Causes and consequences for sea-level variations in the Arctic Ocean
16:50 pm Reception and Open Discussions (Globe Room)

Wednesday, February 28
Elvey Auditorium unless otherwise noted

Elvey Auditorium unless otherwise noted
14:00 Matthias Mengel (PIK Potsdam, Germany): When will sea level stop to rise? (invited talk)
15:00 Coffee Break in the Globe Room
15:30 Andy Aschwanden (GI, UAF): The Greenland Ice Sheet: Will it stay or will it go?
15:50 Stefan Tangen (Nat Res Man, UAF; ACCAP): The human dimension of climate change in rural Alaska
16:10 Bob Bindschadler  (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center): What will it take to improve predictions of future sea level?
16:30 Open Discussions

Friday, March 2
Elvey Auditorium unless otherwise noted

15:30 – 16:30 Bodo Bookhagen (Potsdam University, Germany): Vertical tectonics and sea-level changes: examples from plate margins (invited talk)
17:00 Open discussions at the Wood Center Pub

More info on the guest speakers and talks


Talk: When will sea level stop to rise?

Description: Both global temperature and global sea levels are on the rise and we are clear on the causal link: warmer temperatures let ocean waters expand and ice melt, leading to sea level rise. In detail, things are more complicated: atmospheric temperature rises faster than glaciers, ice sheets and the ocean can follow, with each of the sea-level contributors differing in the timescale of response. Some contributors may deplete. So when will sea level halt once temperatures are stabilized? This is a question I want to explore using (very) simple models for each sea-level component.

I use such models in combination with reduced-complexity climate models in my research. I investigate, for example, the effect of the Paris Agreement on future sea-level rise.

About Matthias Mengel

Matthias Mengel is a Postdoctoral Researcher at Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and an AXA Research Fellow. He holds a PhD in climate physics.

His main research area is the dynamics of the Antarctic ice sheet and its link to global sea level change. His second playing field is developing simple physical representations of the main processes driving sea level rise. He has expertise in simple climate models, which allows him to state links between emission scenarios and sea level rise. Matthias is a co-developer of the PISM ice sheet model and the MAGICC simple climate model. He spends part of his PostDoc at New York University in New York.

A 2013 Polarstern expedition should bring him close to the Larsen C ice shelf, but the sea ice was too thick. He ended up counting amphipods much further north.


Long Talk: The Last Mile: Helping Decision Makers Use Improving Predictions of Sea Level

Sea levels are rising at most heavily populated coastal areas forcing an increasing number of communities to address this issue. Whether there is public acceptance that future increases in sea level are associated with ongoing climate change or not, decision makers at all levels of government are seeking scientific information to assist them in their decisions.  At the same time, there are increasing efforts within the scientific community to provide information intended to better support for decision making.  However, despite the best efforts by both groups, there continue to be a plethora of difficulties and misunderstandings that make this desirable exchange of information problematic.

Short Talk: What will it take to improve predictions of future sea level?

Adapting to future sea level rise is costly.  More accurate projections of site-specific sea-level changes will garner large savings in the future cost of Infrastructure investments.   Scientists are striving to increase sea-level projection accuracy, but it is a tall order with a long list of observations, analyses, and methodologies, all of which can contribute to this societally urgent enterprise.

About Robert Bindschadler

Robert Bindschadler’s career spanned over 30 years at NASA where he retired in 2010 as the Chief Scientist of NASA’s Hydrospheric and Biospheric Sciences Laboratory and a Senior Fellow of the Goddard Space Flight Center.

A Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, he remains active in public lecturing and in developing more effective means of communicating scientific understanding. He has led major multi-institutional and international research projects, most recently a major ice-sheet modeling study for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

During his distinguished NASA career, he developed numerous unique applications of remote sensing data for glaciological research. His extensive field experience includes leading 18 Antarctic field expeditions to study dynamics of the West Antarctic ice sheet. He has testified before Congress, briefed the U.S. Vice President, published over 160 scientific papers, including numerous review articles.


Talk: Vertical tectonics and sea-level changes: examples from plate margins (invited talk)

Description: Fluxes of water and sediments in High Mountain Asia: Rainfall, Snow Water Equivalents, and Erosion

When: Friday, March 2, 3:30pm – 4:30pm

Where: Elvey 214

Note: This talk will also be part of the Friday Geosciences Seminar Series

About Bodo Bookhagen

Bodo Bookhagen’s research uses a combination of field work, field measurements, and remote-sensing data to quantify fluxes of water and sediment on the Earth’s surface. Specific focus is on processes in mountain areas linking observations across spatial and temporal scales and the impact of hydrometeorologic extreme events. Previous employments include research and teaching positions at UC Berkeley, Stanford, and UC Santa Barbara. I am currently located at the University of Potsdam leading the Geological Remote Sensing group.

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