Warren Washington at OSU

By Steve Lundeberg

Pioneering climate scientist Warren Washington, who received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Oregon State University, will give this year’s OSU College of Science Distinguished Lecture on Friday, Oct. 11.

Washington’s presentation, titled “The Historic Development of Climate Models and Geoengineering of the Earth’s Climate,” will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Construction and Engineering Hall at the LaSells Stewart Center, 875 SW 26th St., Corvallis.

The talk is free and open to the public, though people wishing to attend should RSVP. Check-in and a reception will start at 5.

“Warren Washington is one of our most accomplished alumni,” said Roy Haggerty, dean of the College of Science. “He fundamentally changed the way that we understand global climate by using computer modeling. Today, he makes us proud as an OSU alumnus by taking his message of climate change beyond the scientific community.”

A native of Portland, Oregon, Washington is credited with writing the book on climate modeling. He collaborated on the construction of one of the first computer models of the Earth’s climate, and as technology advanced he expanded the model to incorporate oceans, sea ice and rising levels of carbon dioxide.

“Warren is truly a pioneer in the field of climate science – we can still see his first footsteps,” said Philip Mote, vice provost and dean of the Graduate School at Oregon State and professor in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences. Mote has known Washington since Mote was a graduate student at the University of Washington.

Washington’s early models enabled scientists to calculate the impact of increasing greenhouse gas emissions and were instrumental to the findings of the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment report, which was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize.

Washington has advised six U.S. presidents on climate change: Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. President Obama awarded him the 2010 National Medal of Science.

Washington earned a B.S. in physics from OSU in 1958 and a master’s degree in general science in 1960. After receiving his Ph.D. at Pennsylvania State University, he began his professional career at the newly created National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.

In February, Washington was named co-recipient of the 2019 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement. Also receiving the prize, often referred to as the “Nobel Prize for the Environment,” was climate change expert Michael Mann, who developed the “hockey stick graph” showing how the Earth is warming.

Washington, the first African-American to receive the prize in its 46-year history, and Mann shared a $200,000 award.

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