University of Bern to Honor Bradley for Work in Climate Science

Raymond Bradley
Raymond Bradley

Raymond Bradley, distinguished professor in geosciences and director of the Climate System Research Center (CSRC), will receive the 2016 Doctor honoris causa Universitatis Bernensis degree from the University of Bern, Switzerland, at its annual Foundation Ceremony, Dies Academicus, on Dec. 3 in Bern. The university’s rector calls the honorary doctorate a “high distinction” recognizing Bradley’s career contributions to global climate science. 

Bradley says, “I feel especially honored to receive this degree from the University of Bern, as they have the best climate science program in Europe, with many first-class scientists that I greatly admire.”

This is the third honorary doctorate and the latest of several awards recognizing his climate research. Bradley earlier received honorary doctorates from the U.K.’s Lancaster University and from Queen’s University of Kingston, Ontario. In 2007, the European Geosciences Union awarded him the Hans Oeschger Medal “for his contribution to paleoclimate reconstruction from continental archives, and for being instrumental in the multi-proxy approach leading to the quantification of climate change over the last millennium.” The multi-proxy approach uses data other than temperature to infer temperature over past periods when direct measurements are unavailable.

Bradley’s climate science research includes work in the Arctic, the Andes and Africa, where he has studied climate variables and indicators over a wide time-scale from thousands of years ago to the present day. Using a multi-proxy approach to reconstructing the climate of the past 1,000 years, Bradley, with Michael Mann and Malcom Hughes, developed the now-famous graph representing the climate in this period with its “hockey stick” curve, illustrating modern humans’ impact on the environment.

Bradley says communicating accurate information about climate change is crucially important so policymakers and the public can make informed decisions. He has briefed governors, state and federal officials, and testified before the U.S. Senate on climate science and lectured around the world.

He says, “Whatever changes in climate may be brought about by human activities, they will be superimposed on the underlying natural variations in climate that began long before global warming became an issue.” He adds, “I believe that the public and their political representatives are not fully aware of the significant changes that are likely to occur if carbon dioxide emissions continue at their current rate.”

As the author of more than 180 research articlesfor both professional and lay audiences, he has worked “to make our current understanding of climate science widely available and broadly accessible.” He has written or edited 13 books on climatic change and paleoclimatology including the 2012 book, “Global Warming and Political Intimidation” published by the University of Massachusetts Press. In that volume, he tells the story of what it was like to be the target of intimidation by powerful figures in politics and government who sought to suppress scientific findings on global warming in favor of their own political message.

Bradley has been an advisor to governments and international agencies, including the Swiss, Swedish, U.K. and U.S. national science foundations, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. National Research Council, the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the US-Russia Working Group on Environmental Protection and the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program in Stockholm. In 2014 he won the University of Massachusetts’ Roy J. Zuckerberg Endowed Leadership Award, which is given to a UMass researcher who has had an impact “as a leader in research, teaching or service on a local, national or international level.”