Ed Brook studies climate history to understand how the earth system responds to climate change. His work uses polar ice cores as recorders of past climate change, and focuses on the relationship between greenhouse gases and climate change, on time scales of decades to hundreds of thousands
of years. One clear outcome of ice core studies is the recognition that human activities have radically altered the levels and cycles of major greenhouse gases, pushing the atmosphere toward a state it has not seen for at least 50 million years.
Ed’s work has also contributed to our understanding of how quickly climate can change. For example, during the last ice age climate in many parts of the world shifted from cold to warm conditions over just several decades, and sometimes faster. The mechanisms behind these abrupt shifts are only partly understood. Ed’s research group is involved in further studies of their timing and impact, to better understand the probability of similar events in the future.
From 1996 to 2004 Ed was a faculty member at Washington State University before moving to his current position at Oregon State University. Ed has conducted field research in Antarctica, Greenland, Scandinavia, northern Canada, and the western U.S. and runs one of a handful of analytical laboratories devoted to trace gases in polar ice cores. His research group is currently involved in projects at both poles, including the WAIS Divide Drilling project in Antarctica and the NEEM ice core in Greenland.
Ed is a Leopold Leadership Fellow (2008), a Google Science Communication Fellow (2011), and a fellow of AAAS and AGU.