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Photo by Geoff Haines-Stiles for Earth: The Operators' Manual

Richard Alley, a leading geoscientist who has been studying glaciers and sea level change for more than 30 years, will deliver the sixth annual University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Mossman Distinguished Lecture at 7 p.m. March 4 in Alumni Memorial Building’s Cox Auditorium.

Alley’s lecture, titled “Save Humanity (and the Economy): Finding Opportunities to Change Climate Outlook,” is free and open to the public. Free parking will be available in the Neyland Parking Garage, located between Neyland Stadium and Thompson-Boling Arena.

Alley is widely credited with showing that Earth has experienced abrupt climate change in the past—and likely will again, based on his meticulous study of ice cores from Greenland and West Antarctica.

After graduating from the University of Wisconsin in the late 1980s, Alley joined the faculty of Penn State University. His research interests focus on glaciology, sea level change, and abrupt climate change, and he frequently discusses earth sciences on popular science programs and major news outlets including National Public Radio, the BBC, and PBS.

In the early 2000s, he began serving as one of the authors of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which provides world leaders with objective scientific information relevant to understanding the risk of human-induced climate change, its impacts, and possible responses. IPCC members shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore.

Alley was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2008 and is the recipient of the 2011 Stephen Schneider Award for Outstanding Climate Communication.

The Mossman Distinguished Lecture Series is made possible by an estate gift from the late Ken and Blaire Mossman, who met in Knoxville in 1968 while pursuing their degrees at UT.

Ken Mossman earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in health physics and radiation biology through the Institute of Radiation Biology, a joint program of UT and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in 1970 and 1973. Blaire Mossman earned a bachelor’s degree in French from UT in 1971.

In 2018 the university dedicated the Ken and Blaire Mossman Building in their honor. The building is designed for collaborative research and features the latest in teaching technology.


Karen Dunlap (865-974-8674,

Amanda Womac (865-974-2992,​