Pieter Tans

You can ask, well, who cares if it gets a little warmer? Personally, I care. Why? Because the difference between an ice age and today is only a few degrees of global average temperature.

—Pieter Tans

What Difference Does a Few Degrees Make?

Climate change doesn't happen overnight, but neither does evolution. At the current rate of climate change, species adaptation won't have a chance to catch up, according to Pieter Tans. 

The Pace of Rising Waters

Pieter Tans suggests sea level rise may happen sooner than we expect. 

Pieter Tans is a senior scientist in NOAA’s Climate Monitoring and Diagnostics Laboratory. Since the 1970s Tans has worked to increase our understanding of the global carbon cycle, and he is responsible for a number of discoveries that have allowed scientists and the general public to gain more factual information about the changes in our climate. 

A Scientist Unsettled by Climate Change

Peiter Tans speaks about the struggle of being a scientist with an opinion. 

Tans discovered that carbon dioxide can be stored in land ecosystems in the Northern Hemisphere when it’s not accounted for in an ocean or the atmosphere. In addition to his instrumental role in creating the CarbonTracker and the AirCore Atmospheric Sampling System, Tans oversees the monitoring of carbon dioxide measurements taken at the Mauna Loa, Hawaii, site, where in May 2013 levels of the gas in the atmosphere passed 400 parts per million, a long-feared milestone. Tans has also encouraged free access to his and other scientists’ research data, fostering a collaborative environment among the wide network of atmospheric scientists.

Making the Abstract Concrete

Simple images are often the most powerful, says Pieter Tans. 

Learn more about Tans and his research:


Interview with Pieter Tans

Trends in Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide at the Earth System Research Laboratory

A Global Perspective for Global Issues

The sciences should be taught as an organic whole, says Pieter Tans. This broader understanding would help with seeing the bigger picture.

We had these meetings of people all over the world measuring CO2 and other greenhouse gases. We all knew that we had to make very accurate measurements of every greenhouse gas in order to use the measurements to determine sources and sinks. You know, where are they emitted, and how much? Where are they destroyed, and what’s the rate of the destruction?

—Pieter Tans