Climate Science Pioneer

Dr. Wallace S. Broecker
Honoree:  Climate Science Pioneer

Dr. Broecker is the Newberry Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science at Columbia University and a scientist at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.  He has taught at Columbia for over 55 years. 

Dr. Broecker has authored over 450 journal articles and 10 books.  He is known for a number of discoveries include the recognition of the worldwide ocean circulation system known as the Ocean Conveyor Belt which he name.  Broecker also coined the phrase “global warming” in his 1975 paper titled, “Climate Change: Are we on the Brink of a Pronounced Global Warming.”  

Wallace Broecker has developed a broad spectrum of academic research including his work on the biochemical oceanography, ocean mixing based on stable and radioisotope distribution, the biogeochemical cycles of elemental carbon, and the record of climate change contained in polar ice and ocean sediments.  He has become a leading expert on the role of the oceans in climate change and understanding what triggers climate change.  In addition, his work is the foundation of carbon cycle science and his work on chemical tracers in the ocean is central to modern chemical oceanography.  His latest book is titled, The Great Ocean Conveyor, Discovering the Trigger for Abrupt Climate Change, 2010. 

Dr. Broecker has received numerous awards and wide recognition for his important work.  Some of the many awards he has received include:

  • The Vetlesen Prize in 1987
  • The National Medal of Science by President Bill Clinton in 1996
  • The Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement in 2002 from USC
  • The Maurice W. Ewing Medal from the American Geophysical Union
  • The Crafoord Prize in Geoscience in 2006
  • The Alexander Agassiz Medal of the National Academy of Sciences,
  • The Benjamin Franklin Medal in Earth and Environmental Sciences in 2008 from the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia.
  • The Frontiers of Science Award in Climate Change from the BBVA Foundation in 2009.

Dr. Wallace S. Broecker received his B.A., M.A., and Ph. D. from Columbia.  He earned his doctorate in geology in 1958 and was appointed to the faculty at Columbia in 1959.