"Warm" welcome for guest Mix

alan mix webPAGES is pleased to welcome Alan Mix as a guest scientist for the next month at the International Project Office in Bern, Switzerland.

Mix is professor at the College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University, USA, and currently the president of The Oceanography Society.

The former co-chair of PAGES' Scientific Steering Committee (SSC) and Fellow of the AGU and AAAS is in Bern to further develop PAGES’ Warmer Worlds Integrative Activity.

Mix will team with another former PAGES’ co-chair, Hubertus Fischer, and current SSC member Katrin Meissner to organize the first Warmer Worlds meeting – the “Lessons learnt from paleoscience on a possible 1.5-2°C warmer world in the future” workshop in Bern from 5-7 April. Workshop aims include coordinating and synthesizing activities related to the paleo constraints of what a warmer future may be like.

"Hubertus and I served as co-chairs for many years and had a lot of scientific interaction," Mix said. "With me coming from oceanography and Hubertus from ice cores, we wanted to connect the things we were doing. With Katrin’s expertise in modeling we hope to facilitate all sides of the Warmer Worlds initiative and accelerate progress."

The Warmer Worlds Integrative Activity is designed to coordinate efforts of various PAGES working groups researching this theme, and to contribute to the 2018 IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways.

"Several working groups are addressing different aspects of warmer worlds, so we thought why not have 'a working group of working groups', to bring it all together," Mix said. "It’s a perfect time to do this before the next IPCC process. The IPCC recognizes the importance of paleoscience, and we have the opportunity now to put some bounds on how the future will look based on events that actually happened in the past. By bounds, I mean how fast changes happen, the potential for world climates to cross irreversible tipping points, whether we can really scale impacts of warming on regional climate, sea-level rise, and so on. Of course, some aspects of the future may have no clear analog in the past – for example human activities are raising CO2 much higher than it has been in millions of years. Nevertheless, we can use the paleo record to understand key processes of change that help us to frame our understanding of future risks."

At the meeting, Mix, Fischer and Meissner will share co-chairing duties. "We come from different backgrounds  and we hope our diverse perspectives can help guide the discussion," he said. "The ideal outcome would combine knowledge from many fields. It's like we’re all working on a jigsaw puzzle; each scientist has a few puzzle pieces, but now we must put the pieces together to see the bigger picture. I’m hoping to get an overview of what high-impact warning signals are out there - some of which paleo data will be very useful for."

Mix is currently the principal investigator at the Petermann Glacier, Greenland, where an international team is seeking to understand the modern processes and paleo-history of the northern Greenland ice sheet, in particular how ice-ocean interaction drives rapid change in a large marine-terminating outlet glacier fringed by a floating ice shelf. He has led or joined 19 major seagoing expeditions, published close to 200 peer-reviewed articles and lectures regularly around the world.

Warmer Worlds is one of four Integrative Activities (IAs) identified by PAGES as influential and beneficial cross-topical areas for further paleo studies. Learn more about the IAs here.