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Image of iceberg reflecting in calm arctic waters

CIFAR truly is Canada’s intellectual venture capitalist.

David Dodge
CIFAR Immediate Past Chair

Earth System Evolution

At a time when global warming weighs heavily on the public consciousness, the Earth System Evolution program provides the larger context of how our world has evolved over hundreds of millions of years.

Established in 1992, CIFAR's Earth System Evolution program takes a uniquely holistic approach to analyzing how the Earth system works. This approach requires interdisciplinary collaboration between experts in geodynamics, geochemistry, glaciology, fluid dynamics and climate science. It also requires transdisciplinary thinking, a skill that is developed through program interactions and cultivated in both program members and the next generation of Earth system scientists.

Most global change research focuses narrowly on atmosphere-hydrosphere interactions, and on relatively short timescale. In contrast, CIFAR’s Earth System Evolution program focuses on both short and long timescales, and considers the entire Earth system.

By creating historical climate reconstructions, program members boost the predictive power of current climate models. These reconstructions incorporate interconnections among the Earth's interior, surface, oceans, atmosphere and biosphere.

Many current global crises are inextricably linked to environmental issues, including drought, famine, disease, migration and even war. Resolving such crises requires a deep understanding of how the Earth has changed, and how it is likely to continue changing. CIFAR's Earth System Evolution provides this depth.

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Jerry X. Mitrovica

Image of Jerry Mitrovica

Dr. Mitrovica has been the recipient of several prestigious awards, including: the Rutherford Memorial Medal from the Royal Society of Canada (2000), a Steacie Prize from the NRC (2001), the McLean Award from the University of Toronto (2001), the Young Explorers Prize from CIFAR (2002), a Steacie Fellowship from NSERC (2002-2004), the Augustus Love Medal from the European Geosciences Union (2006), and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship (2007). He is also an elected Fellow of the American Geophysical Union (2005).

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Shut down the plates

Image of arctic weather station

By comparing Venus and Earth, geophysicist Mark Jellinek found that a heated atmosphere can cause plate tectonics to shut down and lock into place. The result is a vast landscape of volcanoes.

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