The Wilkes Center Speaker Series provides a welcoming venue for scientists, researchers, and policymakers to discuss challenges and solutions for the defining issue of our age - climate change. The series seeks to create a platform for distinguished researchers to share insights, to foster meaningful opportunities for dialogue and collaboration, and to enhance awareness and motivate effective policy action.
Every fall and spring semester, the Wilkes Center will leverage its on-campus partnerships to deliver speakers on a broad range of topics related to climate science and policy including the impacts of climate change on ecosystems and biodiversity, the role of renewable energy in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, and the latest research on climate modeling and prediction.
2023/24 Wilkes Center Speaker Series
Tuesday, March 19, 2024
12 Noon to 1 pm
Senior Editor atNature
Crocker Science Center, Room 206
The inner workings of high profile journals can be mysterious. How do they decide what to publish, or even to send out to review? How is the process managed? What are the odds of getting published? Do they publish papers only in the interests of being controversial and getting press coverage? And who makes the decisions? Michael White -- Nature’s editor for climate -- discusses the overall journal processes and specific themes behind the climate science research published in Nature over the past 16 years.
Michael White is Nature’s editor for climate science. He handles submissions on atmospheres, oceans, the cryosphere, and hydrology – past, present and future, on Earth and other planets. Michael works closely with Nature’s editors for biogeoscience, economics, and ecology and is broadly experienced in interdisciplinary Earth System Science. Before coming to Nature in 2008, Michael was an academic at Utah State University, where he conducted research on land surface phenology and terrestrial biogeochemistry -- mostly using computational models and satellite remote sensing.
Please let us know if you plan to have lunch
Past Speaking Events
Thursday, February 8 2024, 12:15 pm - 1:15 pm MST
The Future of Western U.S. Forests Under Climate Change
Director of the Wilkes Center for Climate Science and Policy and Associate Professor in the School of Biological Sciences
LOCATION: College of Law and Virtual Event
Our research aims to answer an urgent question: What is the future of Earth’s forests in a changing climate? Massive forest mortality events of many tree species in the last two decades prompt concerns that drought, insects, and wildfire may devastate forests in the coming decades. We study how drought and climate change affect forest ecosystems, including tree physiology, species interactions, carbon cycling, and biosphere-atmosphere feedbacks. This research spans a broad array of spatial scales from xylem cells to ecosystems and seeks to gain a better mechanistic understanding of how climate change will affect forests in the western U.S. and around the world.
William Anderegg is the Director of the Wilkes Center for Climate Science and Policy and an Associate Professor in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Utah. He grew up hiking and camping in the mountains in Colorado. He received his bachelors and Ph.D. from Stanford University and did a NOAA Climate & Global Change Postdoctoral Fellowship at Princeton University. He received the Alan T. Waterman Award from the National Science Foundation, an NSF CAREER award, the National Laureate in Life Sciences from the Blavatnik Family Foundation, the Packard Foundation Fellowship in Science and Engineering, and the Early Career Fellow from the Ecological Society of America.
For more information and to Register:
Tuesday, January 23, 4:00 to 5:00 pm
Why have humans lost control of wildfire in the western United States?
UCLA Professor of Geography, Hydroclimatologist, 2023 MacArthur Fellow
Crocker Science Center, Room 206
Since the mid-1980s the annual area burned in the western U.S. has increased by approximately 300%. In forested areas, the increase has exceeded 1000%. Simple statistical relationships between fire activity and climate strongly suggest that this increase has been largely driven by warming and drying trends. Climate models indicate anthropogenic climate change as an important contributor to these trends. However, these results paint an overly simplistic picture. Fuel characteristics, ignitions by human, and firefighting also critically impact wildfire, and modulate the way in which climate affects wildfire. Further, these processes are highly heterogeneous geographically and have changed substantially in many areas over the past century. In this talk I will use a new, spatially explicit forest-fire and ecosystem model to assess of the magnitude and geography of the contribution of anthropogenic climate change to western U.S. forest-fire activity since the 1950s and how climate change is likely to affect forest fire, carbon, and ecosystems over the remainder of the 21st century.
Park Williams is a hydroclimatologist whose research aims to understand the causes and consequences of hydrological extremes such as drought. Much of his research focuses on hydroclimatology in its own right, and much also aims to improve understanding of how hydrological extremes affect life on earth (bioclimatology). Questions that he finds especially interesting involve the effects of human-caused climate change on the hydrological cycle, ecological systems, and humanity through extreme events such as heat waves, wildfires, and flooding.
Watch the recorded lecture here:
November 13, Noon to 1:00 pm
Utah and Climate Innovation Panel discussion
A panel discussion with:
- Gabi Tellez, Managing Director, Utah Innovation Lab
- Kim Shelley, Director, Utah Department of Environmental Quality
- Luz Escamilla, Minority Leader, Utah State Senate
- Moderator: Jennifer Robinson, Chief of Staff, Gardner Institute
Hinckley Institute caucus room - Room 2018, Gardner Commons
The Wilkes Center for Climate Science & Policy, along with the Gardner Policy Institute and the Hinckley Institute of Politics co-hosted this community discussion on the role of innovation in tackling climate change. Could the state’s new Beehive Emissions Reduction Plan, using federal funds through the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, help to stimulate local industries and Utah-focused green initiatives? How can the state support a shifting Utah economy that is responsive to climate change and poor air quality? Where does Utah have unique opportunities to meet demand for sustainable energy and climate-conscious technologies and businesses?
The Wilkes Center for Climate and Policy
Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute
Watch the recorded discussion here:
October 25, 10 to 11 AM
Wilkes Center Coffee Hour with
New York Times Climate Change Writer
Carolyn Tanner Irish Humanities Bldg, Jewel Box Conference Room
David Wallace-Wells is currently a columnist and staff writer at The New York Times, where he writes a weekly newsletter on climate change, technology and the future of the planet. He is author of The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming.