Richard Alley

Richard Blane Alley (born 18 August 1957)[6] is an American geologist and Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences at Pennsylvania State University.[7] He has authored more than 240 refereed scientific publications about the relationships between Earth's cryosphere and global climate change,[5] and is recognized by the Institute for Scientific Information as a "highly cited researcher."[8][9][10][11]

Richard Alley
Professor Richard Alley ForMemRS.jpg
Richard Alley in 2014, portrait via the Royal Society
Richard Blane Alley

(1957-08-18) 18 August 1957 (age 63)
Alma mater
Known for
AwardsForMemRS[3] 2014 BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award
Heinz Award with special focus on the Environment (2011)
AGU Fellow (2000)[4]
Scientific career
InstitutionsPennsylvania State University
ThesisTransformations in polar firn
Doctoral advisorCharles R. Bentley[5]


Alley was educated at Ohio State University and University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he was awarded a PhD in 1987.[12]

Research and careerEdit

In 1999, Alley was invited to testify about climate change by Vice President Al Gore,[13] in 2003 by the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and before the U.S. House Committee on Science and Technology in 2007[14] and again in 2010.[15][16]

Alley's 2007 testimony was due to his role as a lead author of "Chapter 4: Observations: Changes in Snow, Ice and Frozen Ground" for the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He has participated in the joint UN/WMO panel since 1992, having been a contributing author to both the second and third IPCC assessment reports.

Alley has written several papers in the journals Nature and Science,[7][17][18][19][20][21] and chaired the National Research Council on Abrupt Climate Change. In 2000, he published the book The Two-Mile Time Machine: Ice Cores, Abrupt Climate Change, and Our Future. He has appeared in numerous climate change-related television documentaries and has given many public presentations and media interviews about the subject.[22][23][24][25]

Alley gave the Bjerknes lecture to the 2009 American Geophysical Union meeting titled "The biggest control knob- Carbon Dioxide in Earth's climate history". A video of the presentation[26] is available (also available on YouTube).

Awards and honorsEdit

Alley was awarded the Seligman Crystal in 2005 "for his prodigious contribution to our understanding of the stability of the ice sheets and glaciers of Antarctica and Greenland, and of erosion and sedimentation by this moving ice."[5] Alley is one of several Penn State earth scientists who are contributors to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore.

In 2005 he was also the first recipient of the Louis Agassiz Medal for his "outstanding and sustained contribution to glaciology and for his effective communication of important scientific issues in the public policy arena".[27] His award citation stated "He is imaginative, sharp and humorous, and remains a thorn in the backside of the Bush administration."[27]

In 2008 Alley was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2010.[28]

In 2011, he received the 17th Annual Heinz Award with a special focus on the environment.[29][30]

On 28 April 2014 the National Center for Science Education announced that its first annual Friend of the Planet award had been presented to Alley and Michael E. Mann.[31] He was elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society (ForMemRS) in the same year, his nomination reads:

Richard Alley has made outstanding contributions to the study of ice, its interactions with the landscape and its link to climate. He has made important advances in topics as diverse as grain-scale physics controlling ice deformation, the role and nature of ice streams, and processes at the bed of the ice sheet. His work synthesised the evidence that abrupt climate changes occurred in the past, and drove hypotheses about their cause and the role of ice on ocean circulation. Alley is also an outstanding science communicator, whose skill and enthusiasm has influenced both policymakers and large public audiences.[3]

He won the 2014 BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Climate Change category for his “pioneering research” into the “mechanics of ice and its implications for abrupt climate change,” in the words of the jury's citation. He is the 2017 recipient of the Wollaston Medal, which is the highest award given by the Geological Society of London. It is reserved for geologists who have made a significant impact on the field through a substantial body of impactful research.

Television seriesEdit

In addition to his research, Alley has made several appearances on television. On Sunday, April 10, 2011, PBS debuted a special program on climate change, entitled EARTH: The Operators’ Manual,[32] hosted by Alley.[33] The program's aim was to present an objective, accessible assessment of the Earth's problems and possible solutions, with the stated intention of leaving viewers informed, energized and optimistic. The series continued through 2012 on PBS and affiliates. The series is accompanied by a book of the same name, also by Richard Alley.[34] It was published on April 18, 2011. He has also appeared in episodes of the History Channel series Mega Disasters.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Severinghaus, J. P.; Sowers, T.; Brook, E. J.; Alley, R. B.; Bender, M. L. (1998). "Timing of abrupt climate change at the end of the Younger Dryas interval from thermally fractionated gases in polar ice". Nature. 391 (6663): 141. Bibcode:1998Natur.391..141S. doi:10.1038/34346. S2CID 4426618.
  2. ^ "NASA People". NASA. Retrieved 2008-10-01.
  3. ^ a b "Professor Richard Alley ForMemRS". London: The Royal Society. Archived from the original on 2014-05-02.
  4. ^ "Newly elected fellows of AGU for 2000". Eos Transactions. 81 (8): 79. 2000. Bibcode:2000EOSTr..81...79.. doi:10.1029/00EO00055.
  5. ^ a b c "Citation for Richard Alley" (PDF). Penn State College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-05-17. Retrieved 2008-09-30.
  6. ^ Alexander E. Gates: Earth Scientists from A to Z, Facts on File, 2003
  7. ^ a b "Dan and Carole Burack President's Distinguished Lecture Series". University of Vermont. Archived from the original on 2010-12-28. Retrieved 2008-09-30.
  8. ^ "Alley, Richard B." Institute for Scientific Information. Archived from the original on 19 May 2007. Retrieved 2008-09-30.
  9. ^ Richard Alley publications, in Google Scholar
  10. ^ Alley, R. B.; Mayewski, P. A.; Sowers, T.; Stuiver, M.; Taylor, K. C.; Clark, P. U. (1997). "Holocene climatic instability: A prominent, widespread event 8200 yr ago". Geology. 25 (6): 483. Bibcode:1997Geo....25..483A. doi:10.1130/0091-7613(1997)025<0483:HCIAPW>2.3.CO;2. S2CID 55608759.
  11. ^ Alley, R. B.; Marotzke, J.; Nordhaus, W. D.; Overpeck, J. T.; Peteet, D. M.; Pielke Jr, R. A.; Pierrehumbert, R. T.; Rhines, P. B.; Stocker, T. F.; Talley, L. D.; Wallace, J. M. (Mar 2003). "Abrupt Climate Change" (PDF). Science. 299 (5615): 2005–2010. Bibcode:2003Sci...299.2005A. doi:10.1126/science.1081056. PMID 12663908. S2CID 19455675. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-03-12.
  12. ^ Richard Alley
  13. ^ "Guest Speakers". Ursinus College. Archived from the original on 2012-07-26. Retrieved 2008-09-30.
  14. ^ "Changes in Ice: The 2007 IPCC Assessment" (PDF). United States House of Representatives. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-09-24. Retrieved 2008-09-30.
  15. ^ "The Role of Warming in Melting Ice and Sea-Level Rise, and the Possibility of Abrupt Climate Changes" (PDF). United States House of Representatives. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-12-05. Retrieved 2010-12-18.
  16. ^ Alley, R. B.; Clark, P. U.; Huybrechts, P; Joughin, I (2005). "Ice-Sheet and Sea-Level Changes" (PDF). Science. 310 (5747): 456–60. Bibcode:2005Sci...310..456A. doi:10.1126/science.1114613. PMID 16239468. S2CID 37599421.
  17. ^ Clark, P. U. (1999). "Northern Hemisphere Ice-Sheet Influences on Global Climate Change". Science. 286 (5442): 1104–1111. doi:10.1126/science.286.5442.1104.
  18. ^ Meese, D. A.; Gow, A. J.; Alley, R. B.; Zielinski, G. A.; Grootes, P. M.; Ram, M.; Taylor, K. C.; Mayewski, P. A.; Bolzan, J. F. (1997). "The Greenland Ice Sheet Project 2 depth-age scale: Methods and results". Journal of Geophysical Research. 102 (C12): 26411–26423. Bibcode:1997JGR...10226411M. doi:10.1029/97JC00269.
  19. ^ Jouzel, J.; Alley, R. B.; Cuffey, K. M.; Dansgaard, W.; Grootes, P.; Hoffmann, G.; Johnsen, S. J.; Koster, R. D.; Peel, D.; Shuman, C. A.; Stievenard, M.; Stuiver, M.; White, J. (1997). "Validity of the temperature reconstruction from water isotopes in ice cores". Journal of Geophysical Research. 102 (C12): 26471–26487. Bibcode:1997JGR...10226471J. doi:10.1029/97JC01283.
  20. ^ Cuffey, K. M.; Clow, G. D.; Alley, R. B.; Stuiver, M.; Waddington, E. D.; Saltus, R. W. (1995). "Large Arctic Temperature Change at the Wisconsin-Holocene Glacial Transition". Science. 270 (5235): 455. Bibcode:1995Sci...270..455C. doi:10.1126/science.270.5235.455. S2CID 176515556.
  21. ^ Mayewski, P. A.; Meeker, L. D.; Whitlow, S.; Twickler, M. S.; Morrison, M. C.; Bloomfield, P.; Bond, G. C.; Alley, R. B.; Gow, A. J.; Meese, D. A.; Grootes, P. M.; Ram, M.; Taylor, K. C.; Wumkes, W. (1994). "Changes in Atmospheric Circulation and Ocean Ice Cover over the North Atlantic During the Last 41,000 Years". Science. 263 (5154): 1747–51. Bibcode:1994Sci...263.1747M. doi:10.1126/science.263.5154.1747. PMID 17795382. S2CID 25037993.
  22. ^ Richard Alley (April 18, 2011). EARTH: The Operators' Manual. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 978-0-393-08109-1.
  23. ^ Richard Alley (July 1, 2002). The Two-Mile Time Machine: Ice Cores, Abrupt Climate Change, and Our Future. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-10296-2.
  24. ^ Richard Alley (September 2000). Robert Bindschadler (ed.). The West Antarctic Ice Sheet: Behavior and Environment (Antarctic Research Series). American Geophysical Union. ISBN 978-0-87590-957-8.
  25. ^ Richard Alley (1999). Rocking the parks: Geological stories of the national parks. Kendall/Hunt Pub. Co. ISBN 978-0-7872-5706-4.
  26. ^ "Richard Alley lecture to the 2009 AGU "The biggest control knob- Carbon Dioxide in Earth's climate history"". American Geophysical Union. Retrieved 2010-12-28.
  27. ^ a b "EGU Louis Agassiz Medallist 2006". European Geosciences Union. Retrieved 2008-09-28.
  28. ^ "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter A" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 15 April 2011.
  29. ^ "The Heinz Awards: Richard Alley". The Heinz Awards. The Heinz Awards. Retrieved August 26, 2016.
  30. ^ Kalson, Sally (2011-09-13). "PSU professor's climate work wins 1 of 9 Heinz Awards". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2013-05-17.
  31. ^ "Friend of Darwin and Friend of the Planet awards for 2014". National Center for Science Education. 28 April 2014. Retrieved 28 April 2014.
  32. ^
  33. ^ "Host Richard Alley | Earth: The Operators' Manual".
  34. ^ "Products | Earth: The Operators' Manual".

External linksEdit