Watch Bruce Hornsby & Bon Iver’s Soulful Bonnie Raitt Cover In Richmond

first_imgBruce Hornsby and Bon Iver collaborated once again last night during a performance at Richmond, Virginia’s The National. Bon Iver’s frontman Justin Vernon and the former unofficial Grateful Dead keys player teamed up for Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” as well as the Bon Iver original “Beth/Rest”. Ahead of “Beth/Rest”, Vernon told the crowd, “This is a song that’s coming from all my Bruce listening over the decades.”Watch Bruce Hornsby And Jenny Lewis Sit-In With Bon Iver At CoachellaHornsby and Vernon have collaborated in the past, with Vernon being featured in “Over The Rise,” a song by Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers that was debuted last year. Hornsby also sat in with Vernon and The National’s Aaron Dessner during their special Grateful Dead tribute, Day of the Dead, at Wisconsin’s Eaux Claires festival last summer for a cover of “Black Muddy River”, as well as during Coachella this year. Vernon has been open about his admiration for the legendary keyboard player, noting to Pitchfork last year that most of the material he was working on for his self-titled EP “sounds like a Bruce Hornsby song.”You can watch video of Bruce Hornsby and Bon Iver’s collaboration at The National in Richmond, Virginia, below, courtesy of C. T. B.“I Can’t Make You Love Me” “Beth/Rest” [H/T Jambase; Photo: Jenny Dove]last_img read more

Phil Lesh & “Very Special Friends” To Headline HeadCount Benefit Concert

first_imgOn September 7th, New York’s Apollo Theater will host a benefit concert headlined by “Phil Lesh & Very Special Friends“, marking the first time any member of the Grateful Dead has performed at the iconic Harlem theater. Dubbed Don’t Tell Me This Country Ain’t Got No Heart: A Benefit For Voter Participation, the concert is a fundraiser for HeadCount, the national, nonpartisan, non-profit, organization that works with musicians and music fans to promote participation in democracy in the United States. Tickets for the event go on sale Friday, August 17th at 12:00 p.m. ET here. According to Rolling Stone’s announcement, the show will also be streamed online.The Phil Lesh & Very Special Friends performance will feature the Harlem Gospel Choir, The Terrapin Family Band, Nicki Bluhm, Talib Kweli, Robert Randolph, and Eric Krasno.“This moment requires each of us to step up and get involved,” bassist Phil Lesh told Rolling Stone. “Playing the Apollo the first time is both an honor for me personally and something I can do to help support as many people voting in the Midterms and beyond. I can’t wait for September 7th … and for November 6th.”Concert promoter Peter Shapiro (GD50, LOCKN’, Brooklyn Bowl, Capitol Theatre, Relix) is, of course, behind the efforts here, and is also a member of HeadCount’s board of directors. “I’m always trying to ask myself how this music can be reinvented,” he explains to Rolling Stone. “I’ve put [members of the Dead] on in Central Park, Prospect Park, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Radio City Music Hall, Madison Square Garden, Roseland, Forest Hills Stadium … But the Apollo had never been done and it’s a magical place.”“The biggest issue we face is that many young people think elections happen every four years,” HeadCount executive director Andy Bernstein notes. “Less than 20% of people under 30 voted in the last midterm. There’s a big voter registration component to what we do, but there’s an even greater get-out-the-vote component and that is really, really critical in the midterm elections when so many registered voters stay home.”The goal is for this concert events to be one of many staged around the upcoming elections in 2018 and 2020. “I think we’re going to see a huge uptick in voters of people voting because of events like this,” Shapiro confirms. “This event alone is not going to change the world, but the world won’t change without events like this.”[H/T Rolling Stone]last_img read more

Steely Dan Announces Las Vegas Residency At The Venetian

first_imgRock and Rock Hall of Famers Steely Dan have announced an upcoming nine-show spring residency at The Venetian in Las Vegas, NV, the band’s second Reelin’ In The Chips residency at the Sin City hotel and casino.Steely Dan kicks off their Venetian spring residency on Wednesday, April 24th, followed by shows on April 26th and 27th, as well as on May 1st, 3rd, 4th, 8th, 10th and 11th. Founding member Donald Fagen will be joined by his regular touring cast featuring guitarists Conor Kennedy and Jon Herington, keyboardist Jim Beard, bassist Freddie Washington, drummer Keith Carlock, as well as a four-piece horn section and three backing vocalists.Tickets for Steely Dan’s upcoming residency go on sale this Saturday, February 9th at 1 p.m. (PST) here.For a full list of Steely Dan’s upcoming tour dates and more information on the Vegas residency, head to the band’s website.last_img read more

Bon Iver Announces 2019 U.S. Summer Tour Dates

first_imgIndie folk outfit Bon Iver has announced a small batch of 2019 U.S. summer tour dates, slated for August 31st through September 6th.The band fronted by Justin Vernon will open up the summer run at Missoula, MT’s KettleHouse Amphitheater on August 31st, along with special guests The Indigo Girls. Bon Iver will be joined by special guest Sharon Van Etten at the remaining shows, with performances at Vail, CO’s Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater (9/2); Morrison, CO’s Red Rocks Amphitheatre (9/3); and George, WA’s George Amphitheatre on September 6th.Related: Dead & Company Welcome Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon At Alpine Valley Closer fan club presale tickets will be available for purchase with a unique code. Assigned codes can be found by registering for or logging in to an existing account here. Registered members will have access to purchase tickets starting tomorrow, Wednesday, May 15th at 10 a.m. local time.Remaining tickets will be available to the general public on Friday, May 17th at 10 a.m. local time. Head to Bon Iver’s website for more information.last_img read more

Dave Matthews Band Becomes First Band Recognized As United Nations Environment Goodwill Ambassadors

first_imgToday, June 5th, is “World Environment Day,” an annual international campaign established by the United Nations back in the 1970s in hopes of creating awareness and encourage action towards the protection of earth and the overall environment. Today is also notable for members of the Dave Matthews Band, as the group will be named “Goodwill Ambassadors” for the United Nations Environment Programme.Related: Dave Matthews Discusses Charitable Work & Retirement Plans On ‘CBS This Morning’The popular jam-rock band is being welcomed into the U.N. Ambassador family thanks to their work alongside organizations like REVERB in helping establish sustainability initiatives at their performances. Some examples of the way they help the environment while on tour include utilizing locally sourced products during staff/band catering and implementing single-use plastic reduction, composting and recycling.According to reports, the band’s work has helped to eliminate up to 121 million pounds of CO2 and 478,000 single-use plastic bottles, in addition to collecting an astounding 338,000 gallons of recycling and composted 138,000 pounds of food. The band has also encouraged their loyal fanbase to help raise an impressive $2 million for various environmental causes. It’s too bad today’s digital streaming platforms can’t say the same.“We wholeheartedly welcome the entertainment industry in joining government, civil society and private sector leaders in the fight for positive climate solutions,” North America’s UN Environment Office Director Barbara Hendrie mentioned of the band’s contributions to environmental awareness in a statement. “Musical artists are in a unique position to use their platforms as performers and public figures to build awareness and engage their fans to take action on a very large scale.”Dave Matthews Band now joins contemporaries like Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir as recognized ambassadors to the U.N.’s Environment Programme. Wednesday’s honor, however, marks the first time the U.N. has given the recognition to an entire band rather than just one individual.The recognition comes as the Dave Matthews Band is currently on a break from their ongoing summer tour, which picks up again in a few weeks with two shows at BB&T Pavilion in Camden, NJ on June 14th-15th. For the complete list of tour dates and ticket info, visit the band’s website.[H/T Billboard]last_img read more

Freshman at State of Union

first_imgHarvard freshman Janell Holloway of Matthews House was among the select few invited to Wednesday’s (Jan. 27) State of the Union speech. Holloway, a Washington, D.C., resident who was an intern last summer in the D.C. Scholars program, watched the speech from first lady Michelle Obama’s box.The Harvard Gazette asked Holloway about her experience. Below is an edited version of that conversation:Q. When did you get invited to sit with the first lady, and how did that come about?A. About a week ago. My old boss called me and asked, “Janell, what are you doing next Wednesday?” I said, “I’m going back to school because the first day of class was Monday.” She said, “Well the first lady has invited you to sit in her box for the State of the Union address. Can you get a flight back here?” Immediately after that, I called my parents. They booked me a flight, and everything just sort of happened really fast after that.Q. Did you fly down just for the day, and were there other events involved?A. I flew down Tuesday night right after my classes. [On Wednesday,] two hours before we had to go to White House, we went to the U.S. Department of Education and met [Secretary of Education] Arne Duncan.Q. You went to the White House and then the Capitol?A. We went to the White House first. We had a little reception, and we got to bring one guest. I brought my dad, Jim Holloway. [There were] mostly staffers there, and then the first lady came just before she had to get ready to go. She came by to say hello and thanked us and kind of told us what to expect.Q. How was the speech itself?A. The speech was cool. It was kind of funny because whenever he said something really important, they started clapping. Sometimes they clapped so loud you couldn’t hear everything he said. It was interesting to see how they interacted. He threw in a few ad libs and some little jokes, and that was cool too. It was never a dull moment. It was a great speech. It was really amazing.Q. Did you interact with other people in the box?A. On the van ride over there, we talked to a lot of the people going into the box. Everybody was there for a different reason. The mayor of Oklahoma City was there. There were a few military personnel there. It was pretty interesting. Once we were in the box, while members of House were talking on the floor, we were talking. Even during the speech, when he made interesting points, you heard a few people making comments.Q. Did you get to interact at all with the first lady during the speech?A. Not during the speech. During the reception and afterward, we were able to take pictures with her and the president. We each got a picture with her and the president.Q. Where is it now?A. I think they’re mailing it to us.Q. How would you describe her?A. She’s actually really tall. I didn’t realize she was so tall. She’s very personable, very nice. She seems really down to earth. She’s really funny. What you see on TV isn’t fake.Q. Do you know what you’re going to study here at Harvard?A. I’m thinking of science, but haven’t made a decision yet.Q. Has this experience made an impact on you?A. When I first received the call, I was really excited but … it wasn’t until I talked to my parents and saw how they reacted that I realized how big a deal this is. Actually being in the room and seeing how people interacted with each other and the way he [Obama] presented himself and made his points was a really big deal. And being part of history, that had a big impact on me. I think meeting them, seeing how down to earth they are, how calm he is, how honorable, how accessible, despite the criticism he gets, I think is very inspirational. It was a totally amazing experience.Q. Did you come up to Cambridge this morning?A. I woke up and caught a 7:30 a.m. flight.last_img read more

Paula T. Hammond wins 2010 Scientist of the Year

first_imgThe Harvard Foundation presented the 2010 Scientist of the Year Award to Paula T. Hammond, the Bayer Professor of Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as part of its annual Albert Einstein Science Conference: Advancing Minorities and Women in Science, Engineering, and Mathematics.Hammond will be honored for her outstanding scientific contributions in macromolecular design and synthesis of biomaterials. “The Harvard Foundation is pleased to honor Dr. Hammond as the 2010 Scientist of the Year at our annual Albert Einstein Science Conference,” said S. Allen Counter, director of the Harvard Foundation.Hammond was also a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study in 2004.To read more about Hammond’s research, visit the Hammond Research Group Web site.last_img read more

HMS professor receives honors for reconstructive microsurgery

first_imgJulian Pribaz of the Department of Plastic Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School has been chosen as the American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery’s (ASRM) 2011 Harry J. Buncke Lecturer. The honor is known as the “Nobel Prize” equivalent in the field of reconstructive microsurgery.The award honors the memory of Buncke, a pioneer and mentor in the field of microsurgery who developed many of the techniques and instrumentation used in microsurgery. Nominated by his peers at ASRM, Pribaz is recognized for his extensive work in microsurgery. As part of his award, Pribaz delivered a lecture titled “Will the ‘Brave-New-World’ of Transplantation Be the Answer to the Limitations of Reconstructive Surgery?” on Jan. 18 in Cancun, Mexico.last_img read more

Q&A on Harvard in Allston

first_imgWhen President Drew Faust was looking for a fresh perspective on Harvard’s plans for its Allston properties, she tapped a former mayor, an expert in urban design, and a professor of financial management to co-chair the effort. The Allston Work Team recently delivered its recommendations, which essentially break down the University’s vision for the neighborhood into five discrete projects. Bill Purcell, a former mayor of Nashville and past director of the Institute of Politics, Peter Tufano, the Sylvan C. Coleman Professor of Financial Management at Harvard Business School, and Alex Krieger, a professor of urban design at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, talked with the Gazette about their team’s report. Gazette: When people think about Harvard’s future in Allston, they probably think first about the science complex that was expected to revolutionize collaborative science and produce miracles in health care, and at the same time revitalize the neighborhood. How does your proposal compare to that plan? Is it on the same ambitious scale?Krieger: Yes, we believe it is. In fact, what’s better than before is precisely that we’re suggesting that the future of Harvard’s relationship with Allston does not depend exclusively on the completion of the science building. The facility will be done — soon, we hope — and it still can be devoted to the sciences. But in addition, other wonderful things can take place at the same time.Purcell: There is still a focus on the University and its needs going forward, but it is a future that now includes partners, co-developers, and opportunities for the community that simply weren’t possible before. Gazette: Let’s focus on the existing science building foundation for a minute. Is the new vision going to require a major redesign? Will that be an obstacle to moving ahead with that project?Krieger: There is a substantial structure there, and what happens above it would have to be modified, based upon the specific set of users that will eventually be housed there. So of course there will be a redesign required, but that’s very different than starting from scratch.Tufano: I think it’ll end up being a stronger building and a stronger site design than originally envisioned. If we roll the clock back, there was a need for a great deal of arm twisting some years ago to convince people to come to Allston, a place where the Business School has been for around 100 years. Now there’s a recognition that, especially with the Cambridge and Longwood campuses getting more crowded, this is going to be a desirable place. And it’ll be a smart building. We probably have learned a few things as a result of going through that design process, and then going back to that design process, that allow us to identify things that the original design might not have pushed forward.Gazette: Let’s move on to another project: the creation of an enterprise campus in Allston Landing North. What’s your vision for that?Krieger: In the original master plan, this was an area dedicated toward long-range academic needs. Now the goal is to create an interactive environment between academia and industry and health care partners that can be realized sooner if the University pursues our recommendation to find partners to begin to build facilities there, partners who may be in real estate or hospitals or the life sciences. The ability to start interacting and collaborating will occur sooner than the expectation in the original master plan.Gazette: Why should we expect these businesses to want to move to that area, especially given the continuing uncertainty in the economy? What’s going to attract them?Tufano: First, it’s to our advantage to have businesses or nonprofits close to us, doing their work, so that we can interact with them pedagogically. Why do we think that this may be attractive to them? Our developers and consultants tell us that this is the kind of project that is potentially interesting to a number of parties, and we’ve received some indications of interest that that’s true. The site affords access to the rest of Harvard, and it’s seven minutes on the Pike to the airport. And we have a great lead example: Genzyme is already there.Krieger: And then it’s probably 10 minutes from Route 128. It’s a very well-placed, large piece of land. There are very few pieces of land like this anywhere in the region. The life sciences industry is categorically one of the continued growth industries in the region, and one upon which the metropolitan area will depend for its economic future. There’s no question in my mind that once the University starts to become very public about its desire to find partners, many partners will be found.Gazette: Moving up Western Avenue, you see Barry’s Corner as a site for mixed-use development, with housing that could accommodate Harvard faculty and students and a variety of retail outlets. Is that what the neighbors need and want in that area?Purcell: The housing stock in Allston overall is well-preserved and has been there for much of this last century, but the opportunities for new housing, especially as the Western Avenue corridor develops, are very compelling. This will provide an excitement, a vibrancy, and retail opportunities for not just this specific area at the corner, but actually Allston overall. Our sense is there are opportunities there for graduate students, for faculty, and for other users, and that ultimately residential is not just one of the great strengths in the Boston market right now, but will be a great strength for the development of Harvard’s holdings in Allston.Krieger: Over the years, there have been several studies undertaken by the community itself, by the Boston Redevelopment Authority, and others that have all identified housing and supporting amenities as one of the ideas for the neighborhood. So we’re not introducing anything new. We’re confirming what many others have said is the right future for Barry’s Corner.Tufano: The number of applications for space by our graduate students is multiple times of what’s available. We know that the students have a desire to be on or near the campus. Junior faculty do as well. So this is not a pie-in-the-sky recommendation. It’s based on a lot of years of experience, and, in this case, excess demand for housing by Harvard affiliates.Purcell: And because we think, in this case, that there’s an opportunity for a private developer to take the lead, there’s an opportunity to do it more quickly than would otherwise be possible.What the people who go to live there in Barry’s Corner are going to realize is that this is a very special place, and a very special community, and they are across the street from the Business School. They are steps from our athletic facilities. They are a walk from the Kennedy School, and from Harvard College. The truth is this is an incredible location, within Boston, within our institution, and within the overall region. And those folks will be living in the center of it.Gazette: Another project proposed would create an academic conference center and hotel. Is that a good fit for the area?Tufano: So first of all, what is it? What is it not? It’s not a large conference center. It’s not the Hynes. We routinely around the University run a large number of events, which bring together small numbers and large numbers of important people from all over the globe. We often find nowhere to house them. We find no rooms large enough to actually have our events. One of the hardest jobs at Harvard has got to be a meeting planner who’s got to accommodate these groups.Krieger: And all of our individual Schools have suffered, seeking space for the conferences we organize.Tufano: You can probably fill up this facility, whether we call it a conference center or an executive center, or whatever we might call it, just with the demands that currently can’t be met at Harvard. People who know the Square know that there’s a limited number of hotel rooms and an even more limited number of rooms that can accommodate groups of 50 to 100 or 200. One of the biggest assets the University has is its convening power. So the ability to leverage this convening power in an easier way to advance knowledge by getting people who are experts together is, I think, what Harvard is all about. This simply facilitates that.Gazette: Now, let’s talk a little bit about the process. There have been other committees involved in planning for Harvard’s future in Allston. What’s different about this time? Why should people who are seeing this report think that we are any closer to building something?Purcell: There’s never been an Allston Work Team before. What makes this different is that, from the start, President Faust picked three co-chairs with very different backgrounds and charged us very firmly to move deliberately and as quickly as we could to reach these recommendations. Then she included in the process the deans who are knowledgeable of the University’s academic needs, three alumni who know the University extremely well, and know both the markets and the city well, too. She added the executive vice president to the effort, and Katie Lapp became critically important to the work we were doing by bringing the information that we needed and preparing the institution to be ready to act on the recommendations if they are formally approved.Krieger: In the past, there were multiple committees, often without much knowledge about what each other was doing around Allston.Tufano: I was on one of those committees, the financing committee. You were on many of those committees. There were committees made of deans. There was an advisory committee made of alums …Krieger: Alums and potential donors, and very few of us interacted with the other committees. And as a result, there was no clear University-based center for reaching such decisions.Gazette: So this has been a more integrated effort.Krieger: It is, much more so.Gazette: Did it also benefit more from increased input from the private sector or analysis from outside specialists?Tufano: It’s fair to say that most of the tension in the planning of this project seven or 10 years ago was based on an inward focus around what Harvard wanted to accomplish using largely internal sources. That’s not to say that we didn’t use planners and others, but we were pretty self-referential. This process intentionally, perhaps as a result of coming out of the economic crisis that humbled us all a bit, appropriately so, became much more externally focused. We were trying to figure out what other universities do, trying to figure out other ways to finance things, looking at ways to be smarter. And I think that is a major difference here. Which specific external partners that we ended up working with, I couldn’t tell you. But I believe the University is much more open to the outside world, in this process at least, as a result of work we’ve done over the past 14 to 15 months.Purcell: I do think that is a difference, this interest in what other institutions have done, institutions that we have thought of in the past as peers and others that we realized had experience that was beyond or different from ours, whether they were close at hand here in Cambridge or on the other side of the continent in California. We have not resisted reaching out.Gazette: What about engagement with the community? How much interaction did you have with the people who will live most closely with this project over time?Purcell: When we came in as a work team, appointed by the president, we did what you would expect. I went out, first of all, into the community, onto the street, into the neighborhoods. Other staff from Harvard did the same, began looking to see in a different way, with different eyes, in a different point in the process, what we had done, and what we could do.Truthfully, that resulted in immediate action in pursing the president’s commitment to the greening and the leasing and the improvements of the neighborhood, effectuated by Katie Lapp and folks in HRES [Harvard Real Estate Services], which was visible fairly quickly. We then realized that there needed to be a more regular way for community input and for community engagement, not simply dependent on the regulated, legally mandated planning process. So in addition to the Allston Task Force and our regular representation at boards of trade, and other kinds of meetings in the community, which Harvard has done for a long, long time, we added the monthly coffee hours, which meant that the first Thursday of every month for the last year, I’ve gone to Allston, walked across the river, and said to the community: Here we are. Doors are open. There’s coffee, there’s donuts, but more importantly, there’s Harvard interested in what you think and what you believe we should know or whatever question you might want to ask.Lastly, and I think for our purposes, most important, is the release of these recommendations in the way that they are being provided. Now begins the next opportunity for not just community understanding, but for community response.These are recommendations, and we truly appreciate reaction and input and ideas before coming up with a fully formed, completed plan. While everyone wants to know, in a natural human way, how it’s all going to turn out, the truth is it’s more valuable if, before we jump to that point, we have a chance as neighbors and as community to share our own ideas and visions, and that can happen now.Gazette: Does the faculty have a similar opportunity to respond to these recommendations?Purcell: My sense is the whole community has an opportunity to be heard, not just for a day or a week. Much longer than that, until such time that the University has heard what it needs to hear and analyzed all it needs to know.Gazette: So, let’s say that I’m a faculty member or a student, happily ensconced in the Yard or its environs. Why do I want to be the first group to go across the river?Tufano: Well, first of all, you wouldn’t be the first group.Gazette: [Laughter] Point taken! Why would I want to go, besides the chance to have such a wonderful neighbor as the Business School?Tufano: And remember that athletics is across the river — my side of the river — and our students go over there all the time.Krieger: Every undergraduate is there virtually every day of the week.Tufano: We’re going to have an immediate example to figure out how much we can lure folks across the river with the Innovation Lab, which is really a product of this committee in an expanded way. It was in this committee and working with Lapp and her office that we figured out a way to actually make what could have been a white elephant building into something that would work. But in this next phase, when it opens in the fall, we have to convince students that indeed there’s something important and exciting happening there, and I think the process that we went through in order to get that speaks to something about what’s going to happen next in Allston.We engaged the students, faculty, from all over the University, in figuring out what it is that we wanted to do, what were our goals, what were our aspirations? We had an idea first about what that would be, and then we went out and tested that idea.  That process was relatively quick, you know; from idea to opening will be 18 months or so. It could take longer for Allston for the kind of projects we’re talking about, but I think it’s a model. It’s a model that shows what can be done when you’ve got the right people in the room, up front, where they can actually conceive of an idea and get it to the point where it can then be tested with a broader group of folks, and then be implemented relatively efficiently.Purcell: I think it won’t be terribly long before what you hear very broadly across this community is people saying, I want to be in Allston, I wish I were in Allston, why didn’t anybody tell me about Allston?Krieger: We’ll hold him to that. We’ll ask him about that years later!Gazette: What do you see as the time frame for the projects in the recommendations you have laid out? How long before these ideas could be transformed into bricks and mortar?Purcell: I think we can say in terms of the charge that this is a work team that was very focused on the next decade.Tufano: We believe that these are things that can be considered and appropriately determined within that time period and that there are many things that can be done more quickly, whether it’s more of the kinds of leasing that you’ve already seen occur with the holdings that Harvard has now, or the Business School additions that we’ve just talked about here, or other retail opportunities as well as housing and amenities. Those things can happen in real time, and my presumption is that they will.Gazette: Is there any other point that you would like to address?Tufano: I think we would be remiss if we didn’t point out that among the things that are different about Harvard’s approach to Allston now is the fact that, administratively, Harvard has been pulled together through the creation of the Office of the Executive Vice President in a way that has led to the consolidation of administrative functions, so that the finance side of the house is talking to the real estate side of the house, is talking to the capital planning side of the house. Now those things can be done in concert, and somebody who’s in charge of all of that is at a level so that they have the ear of the president and the provost. We can coordinate things a lot better.The second thing to keep in mind is that the University is planning to go to its friends in a capital campaign at some point in the near future. That will give us an opportunity to articulate even more clearly what our objectives are, not just at this level of the individual Schools but at the University level. This will give great momentum to the work that we have been talking about.last_img read more

Of orbits and ice ages

first_imgThough it was first suggested well over a century ago, the hypothesis that changes in Earth’s orientation relative to its orbit influence the growth and decline of ice sheets was only recently tested.As described in a paper recently published in the journal Nature, Harvard Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences Peter Huybers confirmed that slow changes in both the tilt and orientation of Earth’s spin axis combined to help determine when the major deglaciations of the past million years occurred.“These periods of deglaciation saw massive climate changes,” Huybers said. “Sea level increased by 130 meters, temperatures rose by about 5 degrees C, and atmospheric CO2 went from 180 to 280 parts per million. We ought to understand what caused these massive changes in past climate if we are to predict long-term changes in future climate with any confidence. And at least now we know with greater than 99 percent confidence that the interaction between obliquity and precession are among the factors that contribute to deglaciation.”In this context, obliquity refers to the tilt of the spin axis relative to the plane of Earth’s orbit, and precession refers to changes in the direction that the spin axis points, relative to Earth’s elongated, or eccentric, orbit.While Huybers’ research is the first to prove a connection between obliquity, precession, and deglaciations, suggestions that the Earth’s orbit plays a role in the formation or loss of glaciers are nothing new.By the early 1840s, just a few years after the notion of the Ice Age was first articulated by geologist and later Harvard Professor Louis Agassiz, scientists began proposing that orbital changes were behind periods of glaciation. In the intervening 170 years, Huybers said, dozens of additional hypotheses have been presented, but it has been difficult to distinguish between these many competing models.“We don’t understand why glacial cycles have occurred, not for lack of ideas, but rather because we lack means to rule the wrong ideas out,” Huybers said.  “A lot of people have tried to tie when ice ages started or ended to variations in the orbital cycle, but this is difficult because we don’t know exactly when ice ages occurred in the past.“Our uncertainty in when deglaciations occurred averages plus or minus 10,000 years during the last million years, and this uncertainty encompasses an entire cycle of precession. Not knowing what the orbital configuration was makes it difficult to test whether any particular orbital configuration influences deglaciation.”Though it has previously been shown that obliquity — with its longer, roughly 40,000-year cycle — is related to deglaciations, Huybers said, the innovation here was to test for whether obliquity and precession are together related to worldwide glacier loss.To deal with the uncertainty in the geological records, Huybers developed a methodology through tinkering with “synthetic” records. Essentially, he constructed random realization of glacial cycles to which he added distortions — such as errors in timing and noise in observations — similar to those found in geologic data. Using this synthetic data, he experimented with many techniques until hitting upon one that worked, which he then applied to the actual data, showing the relationship between orbital cycles and deglaciations.“The pattern that emerges is the following: At the same time we’re seeing high obliquity, we also tend to get an alignment with precession whenever deglaciation occurs,” Huybers said. “When you get that alignment, the radiation that the Northern Hemisphere receives during summer increases by tens of watts per meter squared, and if large Northern ice sheets are present, they tend to disintegrate. These statistical findings agree exactly with what Milutin Milankovitch, a Serbian geophysicist, proposed in the first half of the 20th century.”Though his work suggests that orbital configuration contributes to the loss of glacial ice, Huybers was quick to emphasize that it is only one factor among many.“It could also be that orbital forcing causes a rise is atmospheric CO2, and that it’s the increased CO2 that drives the loss of ice sheets,” he said. “In all likelihood, both CO2 and increased summer radiation contribute to deglaciation. They’re both expected to push the climate system toward less ice.“Another important aspect to consider is that the orbital configuration we now have is almost exactly where it was 20,000 years ago, during the Last Glacial Maximum, but this time we’re near a glacial minimum,” he said. “If you think about what the difference is between then and now, it’s not the orbital configuration, it’s the CO2. I think that’s important to keep in mind, because it shows that glacial changes are not a simple function of the orbital configuration.”last_img read more