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Science Journey: "Snowballs in the Desert: Studying Climate Transitions in Earth's Deep Past"

Friday, January 15, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time

Dustin Morris, Graduate Student in Geology


How does Earth’s climate really work? Why does the climate change, and what does CO2 have to do with it? What are the extreme limits of Earth’s climate?

This program will include a discussion of how geologists unravel the climate history of our planet and how that helps us respond to climate change today.

Caltech graduate student Dustin Morris will explain how Earth's climate functions and how it was pushed to the extreme millions of years ago during a time known as "Snowball Earth."

Some questions to wonder about in advance:

  • What is the most important greenhouse gas for changes in the Earth's climate?
  • If the greenhouse gas concentration of a planet's atmosphere were to increase, would that warm or cool the planet (all else staying the same)?
  • In a stack of flat-lying layers of rock, which layers are the oldest and which are the youngest?

Maybe you have some questions of your own. If so you can...

Fill out my online form.

We'll send the submitted questions to Dustin, and publish his answers on this page within three days after the event.

About the Speaker

Dustin Morris
Dustin Morris

Dustin Morris a PhD candidate in geology at Caltech, where he uses the rock record to study extreme changes in Earth's past climate. Our planet's climate is dynamic, having changed in various ways throughout its long history. By studying these past climate changes, Dustin hopes we can better understand Earth's climate overall, along with its impact on sea level and the evolution of life. Hopefully this work can help us better understand and tackle our current climate crisis caused by human activity. To conduct this work, Dustin travels to Namibia to study the sedimentary rocks that record the end of the Snowball Earth event, one of the most extreme climate transitions in Earth's history.

Beyond research, Dustin works to teach others the wonders of Earth history and geology with various outreach events in order to help spark curiosity and to build an inclusive and diverse community within the sciences. He relishes exploring of all kinds, loves to travel, and finds adventures in the outdoors, as well as in fantasy worlds by reading novels and playing tabletop role-playing games.

Dustin Morris
Dustin Morris

About the Series

Science Journeys online programs are recommended for grades 8 and up, but everyone is welcome to attend. All events are held on Friday mornings at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time.

Programs are FREE through the generosity of the Friends of Beckman Auditorium, but reservations are required.

If you have questions, please email Mary Herrera at mhh@caltech.edu.

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