Wallace Broecker, the geophysicist who popularized the term 'glo

James Marshall
February 21, 2019

American geophysicist Wallace Broecker, who was dubbed as the early prophet of climate change, died on Monday, according to Columbia University.

Wallace Broecker, a professor at Columbia University in NY, speaking during the Balzan Prize ceremony in Rome in 2008.

Though the term had been used before, Broecker's usage helped push it into the mainstream. He was 87 years old.

Broecker died Monday in NY, said Kevin Krajick, a senior science writer at Columbia University's Earth Institute.

Broecker was born in Chicago in 1931 and grew up in suburban Oak Park. A spokesman for the university's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory said Broecker had been ailing in recent months.

Broecker wrote in 1975 a paper synthesizing his and others' related researches on climatic changes, which later popularized the term global warming.

He eventually became the first person to recognize the Ocean Conveyor Belt, a global network of deep-ocean currents driven by temperature and salinity that affects rain patterns and air temperature. He received his bachelor's and master's from Columbia University, as well as his doctorate in geology, which he earned in 1958. He suggested that it's the "Achilles heel of the climate system", as even a small rise in temperatures could snap it.

As early as the early 1980s, Broecker warned a House subcommittee that the accumulation of greenhouse gases calls for a bold, new national effort to understand how the atmosphere, oceans, ice, and the terrestrial biosphere operates.

"The climate system is an angry beast, and we are poking it with sticks", he said some 20 years ago.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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