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Wallace Broecker

Wallace Broecker

Newberry Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University

Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability
Arizona State University
PO Box 875402
Tempe, AZ 85287-5402


  • Distinguished Sustainability Fellow, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability
  • Newberry Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University


Wallace S. Broecker passed away February 18, 2019. He was better known as Wally, and was the Newberry Professor of Geology in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University. He was a scientist at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. He received his BA, MA, and PhD from Columbia University with a doctorate in geology in 1958 followed closely by his appointment to the Columbia faculty in 1959. Wally spent his entire academic career at Columbia. In addition, he spent two months each year teaching a short course at Arizona State University. Wally lived in New York City with his wife, Elizabeth Clark, with whom he has worked for over two decades.

Wally's main research has focused on defining the ocean’s role in climate change. He was one of the pioneers in radiocarbon and uranium series dating – quintessential tools for mapping the Earth's past climate fluctuations. He was the first to recognize what he called the Ocean Conveyor Belt and its critical role in climate fluctuations, arguably the most important discovery in the history of oceanography. His recent work puts him among the leaders in calling for action to halt the build-up of anthropogenic carbon dioxide.

Wally authored or coauthored over 500 journal articles and 11 books. He was a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; a member of the National Academy of Sciences; a Foreign Member of the Royal Society; a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and of the European Geophysical Union. In recognition of Wally’s contributions to science he was presented the 1996 National Medal of Science by President Bill Clinton. He also received the Alexander Agassiz Medal of the National Academy of Sciences; the Urey Medal of the European Association of Geochemistry; the V.M. Goldschmidt Award from the Geochemical Society; the Vetlesen Prize from the G. Unger Vetlesen Foundation; the Wollaston Medal of the Geological Society of London; the Roger Revelle Medal of the American Geophysical Union; the Tyler Prize; the Blue Planet Prize of the Asahi Glass Foundation; the Crafoord Prize; the Balzan Prize; and the BBVA Foundation’s ‘Frontiers of Knowledge’ Award.


  • PhD, Geology, Columbia University, 1958
  • MA, Columbia University, 1954
  • BA, Columbia University, 1953


Journal Articles


Moore, W. S., T. Liu, W. S. Broecker, R. C. Finkel and A. B. Wright. 2001. Factors influencing 7Be accumulation on rock varnish. Geophysical Research Letters 28(23):4475-4478. DOI: 10.1029/2001GL013226. (link )


Farley, K. A., E. Maier-Reimer, P. Schlosser and W. S. Broecker. 1995. Constraints on mantle 3He fluxes and deep-sea circulation from an oceanic general circulationm model.. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth 100(83):3829-3839. DOI: 10.1029/94JB02913. (link )

Stute, M., J. F. Clark, P. Schlosser and W. S. Broecker. 1995. A 30,000 yr continental paleotemperature record derived from noble gases dissolved in groundwater from the San Juan Basin, New Mexico. Quaternary Research 43(2):200-220. DOI: 10.1006/qres.1995.1021. (link )

Stute, M., M. Forster, M. Frischkorn, J. F. Clark, P. Schlosser, W. S. Broecker and G. Bonani. 1995. Cooling of tropical Brazil (5°C) during the last glacial maximum. Science 269(5222):379-383. DOI: 10.1126/science.269.5222.379. (link )


Fontes, J. C., M. Stute, P. Schlosser and W. S. Broecker. 1993. Aquifers as archives of paleoclimate. EOS Transections American Geophysical Union 74(2):21-22. DOI: 10.1029/93EO00212. (link )


Stute, M., P. Schlosser, J. F. Clark and W. S. Broecker. 1992. Paleotemperatures in the southwestern United States derived fron noble gases in ground water. Science 256(5059):1000-1003. DOI: 10.1126/science.256.5059.1000. (link )