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Unlocking the climate secrets of polar regions with Professor Reed Scherer

February 15, 2021

Reed Scherer

For his field research, NIU Professor of Geology and Environmental Geosciences Reed Scherer has spent 10 seasons on the continent of Antarctica and has been part of five shipboard expeditions around the world. His research focuses on evaluating climate change over time, especially changes in the Antarctic ice sheet. Scherer and his team of student researchers evaluate large changes to the ice sheet over thousands – and even millions – of years using clues provided by tiny, microscopic plankton fossils recovered from offshore and beneath the half-mile thick West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

At the next STEM Café on Wednesday, Feb. 17, the NIU community and the public will get a chance to hear about Scherer’s research in Antarctica – and learn what the polar regions, both north and south, have to teach us about the effects of climate change around the world.

“We’re living through climate change that is without precedent not only in human history but in Earth history,” Scherer says. “The polar regions – Arctic and Antarctic – are experiencing dramatic changes, in a process called ‘polar amplification’ of global warming.”

At the STEM Café, Scherer will describe the dramatic and ongoing climate change taking place and explain why it’s critically important to us all. He’ll also compare the current changes with the rates and causes of prehistoric, preindustrial climate change – a field of study called paleoclimatology. He’ll explain why such studies are critical to understanding and forecasting climate futures in order to prevent the most catastrophic effects of climate change.

“I want people to realize that climate change is a global problem that extends beyond our personal experience,” Scherer says. “People may be surprised to hear about the speed at which some critical places are changing.”

However, Scherer also wants participants to leave with some understanding of what can be done to address climate change. “It may not yet be too late to slow the process,” he says, “thus delaying the most catastrophic effects our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren would likely endure.”

Scherer notes, “The most important thing everybody can do is to be well-informed, make sure your political representatives know that you are well-informed and make sure that they are too! It’s very important that people be able to distinguish legitimate scientific information from politically tinged misinformation or disinformation.”

Join us at the next STEM Café to gather the information you need to understand the process of climate change – and what we can do to address it. The STEM Café will take place online on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Register for this free online event at

Northern Illinois University STEM Cafés are sponsored by NIU STEAM and are designed to increase public awareness of the critical role STEM fields play in our everyday lives. For more information, contact Judith Dymond, Ed.D., at 815-753-4751 or email [email protected].