MacArthur Fellows Program

John Imbrie

Climatologist | Class of June 1981

Providence, Rhode Island
56 at time of award
Published June 1, 1981

John Imbrie studies the causes and mechanisms of climate change on time scales that range from decades to many millions of years.

Imbrie’s main contribution has been to help unravel the causes of the succession of glacial and interglacial ages.  By following up clues that this succession is driven by variations in the Earth’s orbit, which change the geographic and seasonal patterns of incoming solar radiation, he has identified those parts of the climate system that are sensitive to changes in radiation.  He has also shown how initial responses in these places activate physical, chemical, and biological mechanisms that lead to major alterations in global climate.

Imbrie is the Henry L. Doherty Professor Emeritus of Oceanography in the Department of Geological Sciences at Brown University.  Prior to joining the Brown faculty in 1967, he was a professor in the Department of Geological Sciences at Columbia University (1952-1967).  He has also held adjunct positions in oceanography at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory and at the University of Rhode Island.

Imbrie received a B.A. (1948) from Princeton University, and an M.S. (1949) and a Ph.D. (1951) from Yale University.

Last updated January 1, 2005.

Select News Coverage of John Imbrie
May 19, 2016
"John Imbrie, a Pioneer of Paleoceanography"
State of the Planet
John Imbrie , 1981 MacArthur Fellow
May 21, 1997
"Interview with John Imbrie"
American Institute of Physics
John Imbrie , 1981 MacArthur Fellow
February 29, 1980
"Modeling the Climatic Response to Orbital Variations"
John Imbrie , 1981 MacArthur Fellow
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