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Professor R. Timothy Patterson, Ph.D.

Professor of Geology (paleoclimatology), Department of Earth Sciences
Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario

Presentation Topics: 

1 - How the Sun, Stars and Clouds Control Climate

Dr. Patterson’s research has focused on cyclical changes in the earth’s climate over the past several thousand years. His findings have convinced him that climatic change is significantly influenced by differences in the amount of solar energy reaching earth. He will use examples from the scientific literature and his own research carried out aboard research vessels in the NE Pacific to illustrate his findings.

2 - Implications of Climate Change for Ice Road Truckers

The Tibbitt to Contwoyto Winter Road, of Ice Road Truckers fame, is the world's longest heavy haul ice road extending 586 km north from Yellowknife. This road is critical to the regional economy with more than $500 million/year in goods passing north to service diamond mines.

Prof. Tim Patterson, PhD

Dr. Patterson heads up a major research initiative that is mandated to provide an assessment of the impact of climate change on the route, as any change in ice stability, thickness, and duration of cover associated with climate variability impacts use of the road. With projected future growth in truck traffic it is critical that policy makers, planners, and mine developers have reasonable data upon which to base economic forecasts, as alternate transportation costs (e.g. air transport) are prohibitively high. The research is grueling requiring collecting cores on frozen lakes in mid winter at -50°C and battling clouds of black flies in summer when working from boats and helicopters.  His findings suggest that there has been considerable climate variability through the past few thousand years that is in large part controlled by solar influences and oceanographic changes in the NE Pacific.

Click here for sample testimonials from past presentations.

Summary Profile:

Dr. Patterson is a Professor of Geology in the Department of Earth Sciences at Carleton University, Ottawa, where he specializes in the study of paleoclimatology, the use of geological fossils and other proxies to understand past climate change.

Professor Patterson graduated in 1980 with Bachelor of Science in Biology from Dalhousie University in Halifax. In 1983 he completed a B.A. in Geology at Dalhousie. Professor Patterson then moved to the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), where he did micropaleontology research, graduating from UCLA in 1986 with a Ph.D. in Geology. After brief stints as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California at Berkeley and a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Southern California, Dr. Patterson joined Carleton University in 1988 as an Assistant Professor and was promoted to Full Professor in 1999.  He was appointed an International Fellow in the School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology at the Queen's University of Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 2006.

Professor Patterson employs sediments, microfossils and geochemistry in his research of past and present climate change as indicated in lake and oceanic sediments. His research emphasizes the dynamics of climate and sea level change through the last few thousand years. He also studies the environmental impact of land use change in agricultural and urbanized settings. Dr. Patterson has made about 200 scholarly contributions, including about 125 peer-reviewed research papers in scientific journals. See here for a list of publications. He received a 2002-2003 Carleton University Research Achievement Award in recognition of his work.

Professor Patterson was founding executive editor of the journal Palaeontologia Electronica. From 1995-2008, he was Associate Editor for the Journal of Foraminiferal Research and is past associate editor of the journal Micropaleontology (1990-1997).

Click here for samples of Professor Patterson's research projects.

Public, media and government education:

For the past twelve years, Professor Patterson has been actively involved in educating students, the public, fellow scientists, media, industry and government about the science of climate change. Here are some highlights:

February 10, 2005: Testified before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. An excerpt from his testimony can be seen in the video to the right. Read Professor Patterson's testimony - it is as applicable now as it was then.


May 12, 2011: “Late Night Counsell”, CRFA Radio, Ottawa, Canada interview with Dr. Tim Patterson and Tom Harris. Listen here.


Sample published article:

June 20, 2007:Read the sunspots - The mud at the bottom of B.C. fjords reveals that solar output drives climate change - and that we should prepare now for dangerous global cooling”, National Post, Toronto, Canada. This piece was picked up as the main headline on the Drudge Report, one of the most heavily trafficked news website in the world. Partly as a consequence, the National Post had more hits on Professor Patterson's article than any other article in the history of the newspaper.

Sample published letter to the editor:

May 8, 2008: "Children should know there is a climate-change debate", Ottawa Citizen.

Testifying before the federal environment committee

2008 TV interview in Calgary, Alberta
"2007 Eco-symposium" Earth Day public presentation, Glengarry, Ontario

Click here for other samples of Professor Patterson's public and media educational efforts.