Jonathan Overpeck

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Co-Director, Institute of the Environment

PhD, Geological Sciences, Brown University, 1985

Thomas R. Brown Distinguished Professor of Science

Regents Professor of Geosciences and Atmospheric Sciences

Affiliated Faculty Member – James E. Rogers College of Law

Faculty Member - Center for Latin American Studies

Jonathan Overpeck, or "Peck" as he prefers to be called, is a founding co-director of the Institute of the Environment, as well the Thomas R. Brown Distinguished Professor of Science and a Regents Professor of Geosciences and Atmospheric Science. He received his BA from Hamilton College, as well as a MSc and PhD from Brown University.

Peck has published more than 170 papers in climate and the environmental sciences and served as a coordinating lead author for the Nobel Prize-winning UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment (2007). He also has been awarded the US Department of Commerce Bronze and Gold Medals, as well as the Walter Orr Roberts award of the American Meteorological Society, for his interdisciplinary research. In addition, Peck was a Guggenheim Fellow and the 2005 American Geophysical Union Bjerknes Lecturer, and won, with co-authors, the 2008 NOAA Oceanic and Atmospheric Research Outstanding Scientific Paper Award. He recently received the Quivira Coalition’s Radical Center Award for his work with rural ranchers and land managers, and was also a recent Fellow of the Victorian Centre for Climate Change Adaptation Research at the University of Melbourne, Australia, where he maintains a visiting professorship. Peck is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences.

Before coming to the University of Arizona, Peck was the founding director of the NOAA Paleoclimatology Program and the World Data Center for Paleoclimatology, both in Boulder, Colorado. While in Boulder, he was also a fellow at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research at the University of Colorado. He has worked at Columbia University and NASA.

Paleoclimatologist Prof Jonathan Overpeck describes how research into uncovering the earth’s climate history generates important insights about our climate future.
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Peck has active research programs on five continents (North America, South America, Australia, Africa, and monsoon Asia), most commonly focusing on providing paleoenvironmental insights into how key aspects of Earth’s climate system may change in the future. Although much of Peck's work focuses on terrestrial systems, he also has participated in research cruises to the Arabian Sea and tropical Atlantic. Peck was co-chief scientist with Larry Peterson on the cruise that began the long and rich history of work involving sediments from the Cariaco Basin in the southern Caribbean. Peck also has a strong interest in past, current, and future interactions among climate, ice sheets, and sea level, as well as in interactions between climate and ecosystems. He also collaborates in the area of environmental law.

Peck commits significant time at the interface between science and society, both to help promote understanding of science and help scientists understand broader views, particularly those of decision makers in society who must deal with real-world climate variability and change. In this capacity, he serves as principal investigator of the Climate Assessment for the Southwest Project(CLIMAS), one of the several NOAA Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessment(RISA) programs, as well as the lead university investigator of the Department of the Interior’s Southwest Climate Science Center. Peck is also supported by the US Department of Defense to work with their decision makers on issues related to climate variability and change, and is the lead-PI of a large collaborative U.S. National Science Foundation project focused on global drought, how well we simulate drought with Earth System models, and how information about drought can be optimized for use in society.

Peck has appeared and testified before Congress multiple times. He is a founding co-editor of Summits: Environmental Science, Law, and Policy, a book series published by the University of Chicago Press, has served on the Board of Reviewing Editors for Science, and was a recent guest editor of a multi-issue series focused on 'Electricity water and climate connections" for Environmental Research Letters. He teaches in the areas of environmental science, paleoenvironmental (especially climate) dynamics, and science communication. He tweets about climate-related issues @TucsonPeck.