Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Panel Discusses Extreme Weather
Tornadoes are ravaging through the Midwest and the south. Flooding along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers engulfing homes and towns. Record high and low temperatures over the course of just a few days.
|From left: Bill Dannevik, Ph.D., chair of the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences department; Robert Pasken, Ph.D., associate professor; Tim Eichler, Ph.D., assistant professor; and Benjamin de Foy, Ph.D., assistant professor, address the audience during the Remarkable Weather of 2011 panel discussion.|
The remarkable weather events of 2011 occurring around the world were discussed by a panel of four Saint Louis University professors from the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences department Wednesday before an audience of students, faculty and donors.
The panel included Bill Dannevik, Ph.D., department chair; Robert Pasken, Ph.D., associate professor; Tim Eichler, Ph.D., assistant professor; and Benjamin de Foy, Ph.D., assistant professor.
While many people may be thinking that the rash of unusual weather events of 2011 may be occurring because of a change in the climate, the panelists spoke to the need for a series of unusual weather seasons to occur over a number of years before one could ascribe the events to climate change.
"Weather varies from year to year even without a systematic climate change, but if we were to see similar weather events during five out of the next 15 years then this may lead scientists to suggest that global warming is the cause," Dannevik said.
Louise Belt decided to attend the event because of her interest in the topic of weather and the events occurring over the last several months.
"This discussion spurred a lot of memories and a whole lot of questions that were brought up during the flood of 1993," said Belt, whose husband, Charlie, who died in 1996, was once a professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at SLU.
The panelists also discussed the need for scientists to be able to better communicate their opinions to the general public in such a way that can be easily understood.
"It is appropriate for scientists to play the part of informing the policy debate rather than engaging in it," Dannevik said.
Also discussed was the need for global understanding and cooperation in order to make significant changes and create a better awareness of the need to protect the Earth.
"It will take a long time to raise a whole generation of people who will have the right understanding and have the foresight to act on that understanding of how to better protect the environment and save what is left," Pasken said.
The Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences hosted the event.
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