Microorganisms have been changing the climate, and have been changed by the climate, throughout Earth’s history. Microorganisms respond, adapt, and evolve in their surroundings at higher rates than most other organisms, allowing scientists to study the effects of climate change on microbes to understand and hopefully predict the future effects of climate change on all forms of life. Although scientists have been studying microbial ecosystems for many years, there remains much more to learn and understand about complex microbial functions and their interactions with climate change. The American Academy of Microbiology and American Geophysical Union convened a colloquium on March 3, 2016, bringing together experts from many scientific disciplines to discuss the current understanding of microbes and our changing climate, as well as gaps and priorities for future study.
This colloquium was a collaborative effort between the ASM and the American Geophysical Union (AGU), whose mission is to galvanize a community of Earth and space scientists that collaboratively advance and communicate science and its power to ensure a sustainable future.
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The colloquium was followed by a public lecture by Dr. Paul G. Falkowski, Distinguished Professor Rutgers University, Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences and Department of Geology. Dr. Falkowski’s lecture took attendees deep into the microscopic world to explore how microbes made life on Earth possible—and how human life today would cease to exist without them.
See below for a video of Dr. Falkowski’s lecture