Skip to main content
Campus Calendar


  • To
  • Atlantic Building, and Online
image of Maryland Campus Placeholder


The present is a precarious moment in the eventful history of planet Earth, because of human activities. This is evident in records of recurrent Ice Ages over the past 3 million years, records that provide a context for this picture of Earth’s current diversity of plants on land, and of phytoplankton, oceanic plants that wander. A salient feature of this snapshot of a continually changing panorama, is the equator where phytoplankton, fodder for whales, line-up. More than a century ago Captain Ahab went there to find Moby Dick, but other aspects of the diversity of climatic zones in this picture are still puzzles today. Why, in spite of intense sunlight, are surface waters cold in the eastern equatorial Pacific? Resolution of the debates and disputes this question generates, and improved “tuning” of climate models, can benefit from viewing paleo-climate records as the score of a musical composition. For an entertaining aural version of the prolonged global cooling from 3 to 1 million years ago, with superimposed obliquity oscillations, turn to You Tube: A surprise performance of Ravel's Bolero. To some, this “combination of a sinuous melody, mesmeric rhythm, and slowly building orchestral crescendo ... is a sexy composition with ‘no music in it’...” They should consider that, in the novel Moby Dick, the narrator Ishmael is open to new information and insights, whereas Captain Ahab is not. They should also remember that we call ourselves Homo sapiens.


Atlantic Building

In-person at Atlantic Building room 2400. For a Zoom link please contact


Department of Atmospheric & Oceanic Science

For disability accommodations, please contact Walter Tribett at

Event Tags

Schools and Units



Event Topics