Wallace Smith Broecker, one of the world’s foremost climate change scientists, has passed away at age 87 following a battle with illness spanning the last few months.
Professor Broecker was one of the earliest researchers into the impacts of human activity on the climate and was known for popularizing the term ‘global warming’ in an article written in 1975, in which he predicted the impacts of rising carbon dioxide levels on the atmosphere.
Much of Professor Broecker’s work focussed on oceanography, specifically studying the impacts of ocean circulation and its impacts on climate.
Broecker, who suffered from dyslexia, was known for his eccentric mannerisms and occasional ‘volcanic temper’, he publicly skewered grad students and senior scientists alike for sloppy work.
“He has singlehandedly pushed more understanding than probably anybody in our field,” said Richard Alley, a leading climatologist at Pennsylvania State University. “He is intellectually so huge in how the earth system works and what its history is, that all of us are following Wally in one way or other.”
Broecker’s final extended work was CO2: Earth’s Climate Driver, an overview of the subject from deep time up to the present, published in mid 2018.