Broecker, Wallace Smith

Broecker, Wallace Smith brōkˈər [key], 1931–2019, American geophysicist, b. Chicago, Ph.D. Columbia, 1958. He was a member of Columbia's faculty from 1959. In the 1970s he predicted rising temperatures due to increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and popularized the term “global warming.” He argued that abrupt changes in climate were possible and that it was critical for the world to reduce its use of fossil fuels, and later in life advocated geoengineering to moderate global warming. He also focused on the critical role that oceans play in the climate system, and studied what he called the “global conveyor,” the system of ocean currents that circulates warm water around the globe and can be affected by global warming. He pioneered using trace elements to map ocean currents. Among his books are Tracers in the Sea (1982, with T.-H. Peng), How to Build a Habitable Planet (1988), Fixing Climate (2008, with R. Kunzig), and The Great Ocean Conveyor (2010).

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