Professor Pierrehumbert can often be seen riding his bike.
Professor Pierrehumbert can often be seen riding his bike.

As with many of Raymond (Ray) Pierrehumbert’s generation, his interest in science and research was awakened by the space travels that were shown on TV. During his first years as a researcher, he devoted himself to fluid dynamics but came to broaden his research into the atmosphere and the complex systems that control the climate.

Ray Pierrehumbert has worked at several of the world's top universities. The first time he came to Stockholm was in the late 1980’s – and it was by chance. Ray and his wife Janet, who is a linguist, were going to Helsinki to do research. But for various reasons they ended up not in Finland, but Stockholm. The pair fell for Sweden and have returned here almost every year. Ray Pierrehumbert is now at Stockholm University and the Department of Meteorology for an entire academic year at King Carl XVI Gustaf Visiting Professorship in Environmental Science.

“We are most likely going to pass the point where the earth's climate will be two degrees warmer”. According to Ray Pierrehumbert that does not mean it´s automatically a disaster for humanity, but the risk of a catastrophic development increases the more the temperature rises.

“The decisions we make today determine how the climate will be for the next ten thousand years!”

“When the total amount of coal burned and ended up in the atmosphere amounts to three trillion tonnes, the earth's average temperature rises by two degrees. So far, we have transferred two trillion tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere. Reducing the consumption of fossil fuels is humanity's greatest challenge”.

Ray Pierrehumbert practices what he preaches. He has not owned a car in 20 years, he travels by public transport or by bicycle, lives in a small apartment and do not buy things unnecessarily. The problem from a climate perspective for him, and many other researchers, is air travel. But he is trying to use telephone conferencing and Skype as much as possible.

Ray Pierrehumbert devotes much energy to talking about what research has concluded on climate change. Business representatives are one of his main target groups and for those he wants to show that there are technical solutions and money to be made by the industry.

In the autumn Ray Pierrehumbert will assume the Halley Professorship in Physics at Oxford.

Public Lecture February 11

On February 11, Ray Pierrehumbert will hold a public lecture at Aula Magna on Sweden as a leading country in the climate field. He will then also participate in a panel discussion together with Åsa Romson, Climate and Environment Minister, Per Krusell, Professor of Economics at Stockholm University, and Karin Bäckstrand, Professor of Social Science Research at Stockholm University.