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Richard S. Lindzen
Born 8 February 1940 (1940-02-08) (age 70)
Webster, Massachusetts
Fields Atmospheric Physics
Institutions Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Alma mater Harvard University
Doctoral advisor Richard M. Goody
Notable students Siu-shung Hong, John Boyd, Edwin K. Schneider, Jeffrey M. Forbes, Ka-Kit Tung, Daniel Kirk-Davidoff, Christopher Snyder, Gerard Roe
Known for Dynamic Meteorology, Atmospheric tides, Ozone photochemistry, quasi-biennial oscillation, Iris hypothesis
Notable awards NCAR Outstanding Publication Award, Member of the NAS, AMS Meisinger Award, AMS Charney Award, AGU Macelwane Award, Leo Prize of the Wallin Foundation

Richard Siegmund Lindzen (born February 8, 1940, Webster, Massachusetts) is an American atmospheric physicist and Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Lindzen is known for his work in the dynamics of the middle atmosphere, atmospheric tides and ozone photochemistry. He has published more than 200 scientific papers and books.[1] He was a lead author of Chapter 7, 'Physical Climate Processes and Feedbacks,' of the IPCC Third Assessment Report on climate change. He has been a critic of some global warming theories and what he states are political pressures on climate scientists.



Lindzen has published papers on Hadley circulation, monsoon meteorology, planetary atmospheres, hydrodynamic instability, mid-latitude weather, global heat transport, the water cycle, ice ages, seasonal atmospheric effects. His main contribution to the academic literature on anthropogenic climate change is his proposal of the iris hypothesis in 2001, with co-authors Ming-Dah Chou and Arthur Y. Hou.[2][3] He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Science, Health, and Economic Advisory Council at the Annapolis Center for Science-Based Public Policy. Educated at Harvard University (Ph.D., '64, S.M., '61, A.B., '60), he moved to MIT in 1983, prior to which he held positions at the University of Washington (1964–1965), Institute for Theoretical Meteorology, University of Oslo (1965–1966), National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) (1966–1967), University of Chicago (1968–1972) and Harvard University (1972–1983). He also briefly held a position of Visiting Lecturer at UCLA in 1967.[4] As of January 2010, his publications list included 230 papers and articles published between 1965 and 2008, with five in process for 2009. He is the author of a standard textbook on atmospheric dynamics, and co-authored the monograph Atmospheric Tides with Sydney Chapman.[5]

Awards and honors

Lindzen is a recipient of the American Meteorological Society's Meisinger and Charney Awards, American Geophysical Union's Macelwane Medal, and the Leo Prize from the Wallin Foundation in Goteborg, Sweden. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), and the Norwegian Academy of Sciences and Letters, and was named Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, the American Geophysical Union, and the American Meteorological Society. He is a corresponding member of the NAS Committee on Human Rights, and a member of the United States National Research Council Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate. He was a consultant to the Global Modeling and Simulation Group at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, and a Distinguished Visiting Scientist at California Institute of Technology's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Lindzen is an ISI highly cited researcher,[6] and his biography has been included in American Men and Women of Science.[7]

Global warming

Iris hypothesis

Lindzen hypothesized that the Earth may act like an infrared iris; increased sea surface temperature in the tropics would result in reduced cirrus clouds and thus more infrared radiation leakage from Earth's atmosphere.[8] This hypothesis suggests a negative feedback which would counter the effects of CO2 warming by lowering the climate sensitivity. Satellite data from CERES has led researchers investigating Lindzen's theory to conclude that the Iris effect would instead warm the atmosphere.[9][10]

NAS panel

In 2001 Lindzen served on an 11-member panel organized by the National Academy of Sciences.[11] The panel's report, entitled Climate Change Science: An Analysis of Some Key Questions,[12] has been widely cited. Lindzen subsequently publicly criticized the report summary for leaving out doubts about the weight that could be placed on 20 years of temperature records.[13]

IPCC activities

Lindzen worked on Chapter 7 of 2001 IPCC Working Group 1, which considers the physical processes that are active in real world climate. He had previously been a contributor to Chapter 4 of the 1995 "IPCC Second Assessment." He described the full 2001 IPCC report as "an admirable description of research activities in climate science"[14] although he criticized the Summary for Policymakers. Lindzen stated in May 2001 that it did not truly summarize the IPCC report[15] but had been amended to state more definite conclusions.[16] He also emphasized the fact that the summary had not been written by scientists alone. The NAS panel on which Lindzen served says that the summary was the result of dialogue between scientists and policymakers.[17][18]

Statistical significance of recent warming

Writing in Newsweek in 2007, he stated "warming has largely occurred during the periods from 1919 to 1940 and from 1976 to 1998, with cooling in between. Researchers have been unable to explain this discrepancy." [19] In a paper presented to the Competitive Enterprise Institute Lindzen referred to the "warming episode from the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s" and the "fact that the global temperature anomaly ceased increasing by the mid nineties" as evidence against climate models.[20] An open letter to United Nations Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon, signed by Lindzen includes the statement "there has been no net global warming since 1998. That the current temperature plateau follows a late 20th-century period of warming is consistent with the continuation today of natural multi-decadal or millennial climate cycling."[21] More recently, he has stated that there has been no statistically significant warming since 1995, and restated this as "warming has ceased for the past fourteen years".[22][23]

Media appearances

Lindzen has contributed to several articles on climate change in the mainstream media. In 1996, Lindzen was interviewed by William Stevens for an article in the New York Times.[24] In this article, Lindzen expressed his concern over the validity of computer models used to predict future climate change. Lindzen said that computer models may have overpredicted future warming because of inadequate handling of the climate system's water vapor feedback. The feedback due to water vapor is a major factor in determining how much warming would be expected to occur with increased atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide. Lindzen said that the water vapor feedback could act to nullify future warming. According to Stevens, some scientists who worked on computer climate models did not accept Lindzen's nullification hypothesis.

The New York Times article included the comments of several other experts. Jerry Mahlman, director of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory at Princeton University, did not accept Lindzen's assessment of the science, and said that Lindzen had "sacrificed his luminosity by taking a stand that most of us feel is scientifically unsound." Mahlman did, however, admit that Lindzen was a "formidable opponent." William Gray of Colorado State University basically agreed with Lindzen, describing him as "courageous." He said, "A lot of my older colleagues are very skeptical on the global warming thing." He added that whilst he regarded some of Lindzen's views as flawed, he said that, "across the board he's generally very good." John Wallace of the University of Washington agreed with Lindzen that progress in climate change science had been exaggerated, but said "relatively few scientists who are as skeptical of the whole thing as Dick [Lindzen] is." Stephen Schneider of Stanford University criticized Lindzen's estimate of climate sensitivity (the global mean temperature increase associated with a doubling in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations), arguing that it was too specific given the available evidence. Lindzen's reply to this was that he had at least given reasons for his estimate, rather than following the "herd instinct" common in science.[24]

In June 2001, Lindzen wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal, stating that "there is no consensus, unanimous or otherwise, about long-term climate trends and what causes them" and "I cannot stress this enough – we are not in a position to confidently attribute past climate change to carbon dioxide or to forecast what the climate will be in the future. That is to say, contrary to media impressions, agreement with the three basic statements tells us almost nothing relevant to policy discussions."[13] In July, Lindzen was interviewed by Fred Guterl for Newsweek.[25] Other experts also contributed to the article. Contrary to the IPCC's assessment, Lindzen said that climate models were inadequate and had not improved. Guterl wrote that despite the accepted errors in their models, e.g., treatment of clouds, modelers still thought their climate predictions were valid. Lindzen gave an estimate of the Earth's climate sensitivity of less than 1 degree Celsius. Lindzen based this estimate on how the climate had responded to volcanic eruptions. James E. Hansen, a climate scientist at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies estimated a climate sensitivity of 3–4 degrees Celsius. Hansen based this estimate on evidence from ice cores. According to Hansen: "Dick's idea that climate sensitivity is low is simply wrong, [...] The history of the earth proves him wrong."[25] John Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, took the view that greenhouse gas emissions should be cut. When asked about Lindzen, Schellnhuber said "People like him are very useful in finding the weak links in our thinking."[25]

In September 2003 Lindzen wrote an open letter to the mayor of his home town, Newton, Massachusetts,[26] his views on global warming and the Kyoto Accord, in which he stated, "... [T]he impact of CO2 on the Earth's heat budget is nonlinear. What this means is that although CO2 has only increased about 30% over its pre-industrial level, the impact on the heat budget of the Earth due to the increases in CO2 and other man influenced greenhouse substances has already reached about 75% of what one expects from a doubling of CO2, and that the temperature rise seen so far is much less (by a factor of 2–3) than models predict (assuming that all of the very irregular change in temperature over the past 120 years or so—about 1 degree F—is due to added greenhouse gases—a very implausible assumption)."

The November 10, 2004 online version of Reason magazine reported that Lindzen is "willing to take bets that global average temperatures in 20 years will in fact be lower than they are now."[27] James Annan, a scientist involved in climate prediction, contacted Lindzen to arrange a bet. Annan and Lindzen exchanged proposals for bets, but were unable to agree. Lindzen's final proposal was a bet that if the temperature change were less than 0.2 °C (0.36 °F), he would win. If the temperature change were between 0.2 °C (0.36 °F) and 0.4 °C (0.72 °F) the bet would be off, and if the temperature change were 0.4 °C (0.72 °F) or greater, Annan would win. He would take 2 to 1 odds.[28]

Of the Kyoto Accord, he claims there is no "controversy over the fact that the Kyoto Protocol, itself, will do almost nothing to stabilize CO2. Capping CO2 emissions per unit of electricity generated will have a negligible impact on CO2 levels."[29]

He frequently speaks out against the IPCC position that significant global warming is very likely caused by humans (see global warming) although he accepts that the warming has occurred, saying global mean temperature is about 0.6 degrees Celsius higher than it was a century ago.[14] A Spiegel article on the 2007 IPCC Working Group I report included a discussion of Lindzen's critical views on the IPCC.[30] The writer of article Uwe Buse concluded "Lindzen's arguments sound convincing, but they are still nothing but claims, popular theories as opposed to a transparent global process [the IPCC report], a global plebiscite among climate researchers."

Lindzen has been characterized as a contrarian, in relation to climate change and other issues.[31][32][33] Lindzen's graduate students describe him as "fiercely intelligent, with a deep contrarian streak." [34] This characterization has been linked to Lindzen's view that lung cancer has only been weakly linked to smoking. Writing in Newsweek, Fred Guterl stated "Lindzen clearly relishes the role of naysayer. He'll even expound on how weakly lung cancer is linked to cigarette smoking. He speaks in full, impeccably logical paragraphs, and he punctuates his measured cadences with thoughtful drags on a cigarette"[35] – an observation that was later echoed by Robyn Williams.[36]

See also


  1. ^ "Curriculum Vitae of Richard Siegmund Lindzen". Retrieved 16 June 2009. 
  2. ^ "Publications". Retrieved 2007-04-05. 
  3. ^ Lindzen, R.S., M.-D. Chou, and A.Y. Hou (2001). "Does the Earth have an adaptive infrared iris?". Bull. Amer. Met. Soc. 82: 417–432. doi:10.1175/1520-0477(2001)082<0417:DTEHAA>2.3.CO;2. 
  4. ^ "Curriculum Vitae, Richard Siegmund Lindzen". June 1, 2008. Retrieved 2009-03-18. 
  5. ^ "Richard Lindzen's Publications". Retrieved January 17, 2010. 
  6. ^ ISI record
  7. ^ American Men & Women of Science, 25th ed. Vol. 4, P.909 (2008)
  8. ^ Lindzen, R.S., M.-D. Chou, and A.Y. Hou (2001). "Does the Earth have an adaptive infrared iris?". Bull. Amer. Met. Soc. 82: 417–432. doi:10.1175/1520-0477(2001)082<0417:DTEHAA>2.3.CO;2. 
  9. ^ Bing Lin; et al. (2002). "The iris hypothesis: a negative or positive cloud feedback?". J. Climate 15: 3–7. 
  10. ^ NASA (Jan 16, 2002). "NASA satellite instrument warms up global cooling theory". Press release. 
  11. ^ "Climate Change Science: An Analysis of Some Key Questions: Committee on the Science of Climate Change". National Academies Press. 2001. Retrieved 2007-04-05. 
  12. ^ "Climate Change Science: An Analysis of Some Key Questions". National Academies Press. 2001. Retrieved 2007-04-05. 
  13. ^ a b Lindzen, Richard S. (June 11, 2001). "Scientists' Report Doesn't Support the Kyoto Treaty" (PDF). The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2007-04-05. 
  14. ^ a b Lindzen, Richard S. (February 23, 2004). "Canadian Reactions To Sir David King". The Hill Times. Retrieved 2007-04-05. 
  15. ^ Lindzen, Richard S. (May 1, 2001). "Testimony of Richard S. Lindzen before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee" (PDF). Lavoisier Group. Retrieved 18th March, 2009. 
  16. ^ Solomon, Lawrence (December 22, 2006). "The Deniers – Part V: The original denier: into the cold". National Post. Retrieved 2007-04-05. 
  17. ^ The NAS panel said on the matter that "The committee finds that the full IPCC Working Group I (WGI) report is an admirable summary of research activities in climate science, and the full report is adequately summarized in the Technical Summary. The full WGI report and its Technical Summary are not specifically directed at policy. The Summary for Policymakers reflects less emphasis on communicating the basis for uncertainty and a stronger emphasis on areas of major concern associated with human-induced climate change. This change in emphasis appears to be the result of a summary process in which scientists work with policy makers on the document. Written responses from U.S. coordinating and lead scientific authors to the committee indicate, however, that (a) no changes were made without the consent of the convening lead authors (this group represents a fraction of the lead and contributing authors) and (b) most changes that did occur lacked significant impact."
  18. ^ "Climate Change Science: An Analysis of Some Key Questions: Summary". National Academies Press. 2001. Retrieved 2007-04-05. 
  19. ^ "Opinion: Global Warming Fears Overblown -". 
  20. ^ [1]
  21. ^ "Open Letter From 100 Scientists to Ban Ki-moon | NowPublic Photo Archives". 
  22. ^ "Quadrant Online - Resisting climate hysteria". 
  23. ^ "Among the Global Warming Skeptics - Reason Magazine". 
  24. ^ a b Stevens, W. (June 18, 1996). "SCIENTIST AT WORK: Richard S. Lindzen;A Skeptic Asks, Is It Getting Hotter, Or Is It Just the Computer Model?". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-07-26. 
  25. ^ a b c Guterl, F. (July 23, 2001). "The Truth About Global Warming". Newsweek. Retrieved 2009-07-26. 
  26. ^ TCS Daily : Technology – Commerce – Society
  27. ^ Bailey, Ronald (November 10, 2005). "Two Sides to Global Warming". Reason Magazine. Retrieved 2007-04-05. 
  28. ^ Bailey, Ronald (June 8, 2005). "Betting on Climate Change". Reason Magazine. Retrieved 2007-04-05. 
  29. ^ Lindzen, Dr. Richard (09/17/2003). "A Mayor Mistake". TCS (Tech Central Station). Retrieved 2009-03-15. 
  30. ^ Buse, U. Translated from the German by C. Sultan (May 3, 2007). "Is the IPCC Doing Harm to Science?". Spiegel Online International.,1518,480766,00.html. Retrieved 2009-07-26. 
  31. ^ "Climate change dissenters say they are demonized in debate -". 
  32. ^ Eilperin, Juliet (October, 2009). "Richard Lindzen: An Inconvenient Expert". Outside. Retrieved December 8, 2009. 
  33. ^ Achenbach, Joel (June 5, 2006). "Global-warming skeptics continue to punch away". The Seattle Times. Retrieved December 8, 2009. 
  34. ^ "The Contrarian". Seed. August 24, 2006. Retrieved December 8, 2009. 
  35. ^ Guterl, Fred (July 23, 2001). "The Truth About Global Warming". Newsweek. Retrieved December 8, 2009. 
  36. ^ Williams, Robyn (2005). "Fair-weather friends?". Griffith Review (12). 

External links


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