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INSTAAR noon seminar: The Galápagos: A fluke of geology, ocean circulation, penguins and climate

Monday, March 19, 2018, 12:15PM - 1:15PM


Kris Karnauskas


What happens when a tiny group of islands rises from the sea floor and stands directly in the path of one of the grandest ocean currents in the world? This happened millions of years ago; we now have penguins in the tropics and Darwin got to thinking about life. But how far afield do the effects reverberate through the Earth system? There is far more than one could learn in a lifetime about geology, ecology, biology, and evolution from the Galápagos Archipelago, and part of why this is so is because of where it is on the planet. In fact, it is precisely where the islands just happened to have formed—smack on the equator—that makes them so interesting to me as a physical oceanographer and climate dynamicist. Likewise, the distribution of several species, including the Galápagos Penguin, is intimately tied to upwelling of cold, nutrient–rich water along the western shores of the archipelago. In this talk, I will discuss the geologic evolution of the islands, their shaping of marine and terrestrial life in the eastern equatorial Pacific, and their impacts on ocean circulation and climate both near and far. Results are drawn from a variety of circulation models, satellite observations and in situ measurements including autonomous underwater gliders.


Free and open to the public.