McNamara Alumni Center, University of Minnesota
The 25th Kuehnast Lecture in the Fields of Meteorology and Climatology
Forty Years As Extension Climatologist: Learning How Science and Citizenship Can Unite Us
Dr. Mark Seeley, Professor and Climatologist at the University of Minnesota's Department of Soil, Water, and Climate
The history of pragmatic application of climate science runs deep in both our management of natural resources (soils, water, forests), as well as the deployment and operation of our societal infrastructure (electric utility grid, transportation network, water delivery system, public health services). Stan Changnon spoke eloquently about this at the very first Kuehnast Endowment Lecture (October 5, 1993). As a weather and climate educator for University of Minnesota Extension the pragmatic dimension of climate science dominated the first 20 years of my career. I had great role models in this regard, among them Helmut Landsberg, D. Murray Brown, Robert Shaw, and of course our own Earl Kuehnast and Don Baker. But starting in the mid-1990s climate change began to dominate as an important science and societal issue. This is evident in scanning the history of the Kuehnast Lecture Series. Using Minnesota’s rich climate history as a platform for public dialogue I began to explore ways to engage the public on how our climate has changed (using analysis of historical measurements) and how these changes have impacted our state. It has not been an easy message to carry to all parts of the state, but it is an important one, and is best conveyed through stories and perspectives that share common histories and values among Minnesota citizens.