Jonathan Overpeck

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Co-Director, Institute of the Environment

PhD, Geological Sciences, Brown University, 1985

Professor, Department of Geosciences and Department of Atmospheric Sciences


Jonathan Overpeck, or "Peck" as he prefers to be called, is a founding co-director of the Institute of the Environment, as well as a professor of geosciences and atmospheric sciences. He received his BA from Hamilton College and an MSc and PhD from Brown University.

Peck has published more than 160 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. 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.

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 in 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.


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.

Peck has appeared and testified before Congress multiple times and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He recently spent his sabbatical at the University of Melbourne, serving as a visiting fellow of the Victorian Centre for Climate Change Adaptation Research, and as a visiting scientist with the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence For Climate System Science.

Peck is a founding co-editor of Summits: Environmental Science, Law, and Policy, a book series published by the University of Chicago Press. He teaches in the areas of environmental science, paleoenvironmental (especially climate) dynamics, and science communication. He tweets about climate-related issues @TucsonPeck.