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David Lea
University of California, Santa Barbara












Dr. David Lea is Professor of Earth Science and member of the Marine Science Institute at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he has been a faculty member since 1989. He received his Ph.D. in Oceanography from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute Joint Program in 1990. His research interests include climate change, global warming, climate evolution during the Ice Ages, marine geochemistry and the carbon cycle. He has published over 80 scholarly papers on these topics, including 16 in the high profile journals Science and Nature. His major research findings include developing several proxies to reconstruct temperature and other climate variables from oceanic sediments, establishing patterns of climate change in the Ice Age tropics, and evaluating links between past greenhouse gas changes and climate change. Dr. Lea has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Chicago and University of Cambridge, UK. His awards include the UCSB Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award (2001), a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship (2002-03), a Leverhulme Visiting Professorship, a Clare Hall Visiting Fellowship (both 2002-03, Cambridge, UK), the American Geophysical Union Emiliani Lectureship (2007), given for “outstanding scientific contributions to our understanding of past oceans and climates,” and a Leopold Environmental Leadership Fellowship (2009). He developed and chaired UCSB’s 2007 Global Warming-Science and Society Event Series, which drew over 3600 attendees.

State Department Profile

Office of Global Change

During my tenure as a Jefferson Science Fellow at the DoS, from August 2010 until July 2011, I served as the scientific advisor on climate change for EGC, the Office of Global Change, and SECC, the Special Envoy on Climate Change (Todd Stern and Jonathan Pershing). My focus in advising SECC and EGC was on all aspects of climate science relevant to international climate policy, including climate change impacts, greenhouse gas emissions and mitigation, energy trends and geoengineering. In this role I not only kept SECC and EGC abreast of developments in climate science but also did extensive research and advising for SECC in response to their specific requests, especially with regards to issues that arose around interpretation of Article 2 of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. I also worked extensively on Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issues, including serving as a U.S. delegate to IPCC Plenary meetings in South Korea and the UAE and assisting in the development of reforms to improve and strengthen the IPCC. I worked with other U.S. and international organizations that have important climate change equities, such as the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), including serving as a U.S. delegate to the GEO Plenary meeting in Shanghai, China, the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) and the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI).


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