Global Climate Impacts

We are witness to erratic weather patterns, glacier retreat and disappearing ice, increasingly toxic oceans and waterways, rising sea levels, and threats to our food and drinking water. All signs point to the increase of these changes in coming years, affecting people, plants, animals and ecosystems in ways both predictable and unanticipated.

Our faculty experts weigh in and share their research, scholarship and insights on how climate impacts the fabric of our planet.



The Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center is an international leader in polar, alpine and climate research, and houses the third-largest archive of prehistoric ice core samples in the world.

Ellen Mosley-Thompson, director and professor, and Lonnie Thompson, professor and senior research scientist — two of the most prominent and respected climate scientists in the world — have provided an abundance of the evidence we have today about global climate change. Since 1973, Lonnie has conducted 65 expeditions, primarily in Africa, South America and Asia, while Ellen has conducted 15 expeditions to the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets since 1982.

Ellen and Lonnie Thompson

Record-Breaking Heat

Record-Breaking Heat

NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that June 2016 marked 14 consecutive months of record heat globally, the longest streak of record-breaking temperatures since reporting began in 1880.

Expert Q&A

Extreme Weather

Aaron Wilson

The topic of extreme weather has gained a lot of interest in recent years, as devastating flood events, Superstorm Sandy and widespread drought and heat waves have occurred. Aaron Wilson, research associate II, Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center and a member of the State Climate Office of Ohio, offers an assessment of extreme weather events in the context of climate change.


Oceans Ecosystems

Matt SullivanIn 2008, microbiologist  Matthew Sullivan and approximately 200 of the world’s top researchers planned a global research expedition on a sailboat. This led to the Tara Oceans Expedition, an extraordinary two-year quest to get to the bottom (literally) of how oceans help mitigate global warming.


Bees & Plants

Karen GoodellEcologist Karen Goodell, associate professor in the Department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology, studies plants and insects (especially bees), investigating how human impacts on habitat and climate affect and threaten the critical interactions of plants and their pollinators.


Ethical Questions

Tristram McPhersonTristram McPherson, associate professor, philosophy, focuses his research on foundational philosophical questions about ethics.

He is drawn to studying climate change because of the pressing nature of the issue and the ethical questions it raises. He recently co-organized a conference on philosophy and climate change at Princeton University.

Global Warming

Global Warming

According to the World Meteorological Organization, “2016 is on track to be the world’s hottest year on record. Arctic sea ice melted early and fast, another indicator of climate change. Carbon dioxide levels, which are driving global warming, have reached new highs.”



Stuart Ludsin

The Lake Erie ecosystem supports numerous services important to Ohio residents, including safe drinking water and food, recreation and a habitat for a variety of fish and birds. We should be aware that our actions can affect Lake Erie’s health; even those happening hundreds of miles away can influence water quality and biodiversity.

Contributed by Stu Ludsin, associate professor, Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology; co-director, Aquatic Ecology Lab

Lake Erie Algae Bloom

Image: 2015 Lake Erie Algae Bloom, courtesy of NASA

Coral and mass bleaching

Coral and mass bleaching

Andrea Grottoli

The world is experiencing its third mass coral-bleaching event. Because of elevated temperatures at tropical locations, large populations of corals are turning white. This is bad — bleaching can lead to large-scale decreases in coral health and, ultimately, their death.

Contributed by Andrea Grottoli, professor of Earth sciences and director of the Carbon, Water and Climate Program.


Grotolli at TEDXOhioStateUniversity

Teaching Climate Change

Teaching Climate Change

Beginning this autumn, students will have an opportunity to study climate change from multiple angles through a first-of-its-kind interdisciplinary course

“Climate Change: Mechanisms, Impacts and Mitigation,” will be team-taught by Michael Bevis, Ohio Eminent Scholar and professor in the School of Earth Sciences; Geoffrey Parker, Andreas Dorpalen Professor of European History; and Steven Rissing, professor in the Department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology.

“Our hope is that students will analyze climate change from an evidence-based point of view. Our students will come out of this course and be able to judge by the evidence.”  {Michael Bevis}

Course topics include: the effect of carbon dioxide; biological responses; historical experiences; effects on human infrastructure; and the implications for business, politics and policy.