2017-2018 Ocean Discovery Lecturer – Howie Scher

Howie Scher

University of South Carolina

2017-2018 Ocean Discovery Lecturer



Chasing Ice Through Space and Time – Reconstructing Polar Ice Sheets Through the Cenozoic Using the Marine Sediment Record



Large ice sheets at both poles may be the namesakes for the present-day climate state—the icehouse—however our understanding of when these massive accumulations of ice first appeared is far from complete. The continental crust beneath the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets is ancient, and processes of glacial weathering contribute distinct and easily recognizable isotopic fingerprints from these sources to the ocean. Dr. Scher has used radiogenic isotopes in sedimentary record from the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica to figure out the timing of major glacial weathering pulses. He will present evidence that precursor glaciations preceded the widespread development of ice-sheets on Antarctica. He will also present new results from the North Atlantic (Expedition 342, Newfoundland drifts) that indicate an episode of glacial weathering on Greenland in the earliest Oligocene. The paradox implied by these results—that there was continental ice in the northern hemisphere when CO2 levels were above the bipolar glaciation threshold—may be resolved in the future with a better understanding of past CO2 levels and paleo-elevation in the Northern Hemisphere.


Howie is an associate professor in the School of the Earth, Ocean, and Environment at the University of South Carolina. He received his Ph.D. in Geological Sciences from the University of Florida and was an IMAS postdoctoral scholar at UC Santa Cruz. Howie participated as a shipboard scientist on two IODP Expeditions (Expeditions 320 and 342).




  • September 19, 2017, Iowa State University, Iowa
  • September 28, 2017 Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL
  • October 25, 2017, CUNY, NYC
  • October 27, 2017, Binghamton University, Binghamton, NY
  • November 20, 2017 Yale, New Haven, CT
  • January 11, 2018, The Schiele Museum of Natural History, Gastonia, NC
  • February 16, 2018. University of Rochester, Rochester, NY
  • March 8, 2018, University at Buffalo, Buffalo NY
  • March 20, 2018, University of St. Thomas, Saint Paul, MN
  • April 16, 2018 Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI