Michael Oppenheimer is the Albert G. Milbank Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School and the Department of Geosciences at Princeton University. He is the director of the Program in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy (STEP) at the Woodrow Wilson School and faculty associate of the Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Program, Princeton Environmental Institute and the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies.
Oppenheimer joined the Princeton faculty after more than two decades with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), a nongovernmental, environmental organization, where he served as chief scientist and manager of the Climate and Air Program. He continues to serve as a science adviser to EDF.
Oppenheimer is a long-time participant in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, serving recently as a coordinating lead author of both the IPCC’s special report on extreme climate events and disasters (called SREX) and the Fifth Assessment Report. Oppenheimer has been a member of several panels of the National Academy of Sciences, as well as, the Academy's Board on Energy and Environmental Systems. He is also a winner of the 2010 Heinz Award and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
His interests include science and policy of the atmosphere, particularly climate change and its impacts. Much of his research aims to understand the potential for “dangerous” outcomes of increasing levels of greenhouse gases by exploring the effects of global warming on the ice sheets and sea level, on the risk from coastal storms and on patterns of human migration. He also studies the process of scientific learning and scientific assessments and their role in problems of global change.
In the late 1980s, Oppenheimer and a handful of other scientists organized two workshops under the auspices of the United Nations that helped precipitate the negotiations that resulted in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (signed at the 1992 Earth Summit) and the Kyoto Protocol. During that period, he co-founded the Climate Action Network. His research and advocacy work on acid rain also contributed to the passage of the 1990 amendments to the Clean Air Act. Oppenheimer has been a guest on many television and radio programs, including ABC’s This Week, Nightline, Alcove, NewsHour, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Charlie Rose, ABC News and The Colbert Report.
Prior to his position at the EDF, Oppenheimer served as an atomic and molecular astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and as a lecturer on astronomy at Harvard University. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a doctoral degree in chemical physics from the University of Chicago. He pursued postdoctoral research at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
Oppenheimer is the author of over 120 articles published in professional journals and is co-author (with Robert H. Boyle) of a 1990 book, “Dead Heat: The Race Against the Greenhouse Effect.”
For more information on Oppenheimer, visit:
Selected recent publications (see CV for full Bibliography):
2017 The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: Challenges and Opportunities
Mark Vardy, Michael Oppenheimer, Navroz K. Dubash, Jessica O' Reilly, and Dale Jamieson
Annual Review of Environment and Resources, Vol.42, 55-75, October 2017
2017 Amplification of flood frequencies with local sea level rise and emerging flood regimes
2017 Estimating economic damage from climate change in the United States
2017 Unmask temporal trade-offs in climate policy debates
Ilissa B. Ocko, Steven P. Hamburg, Daniel J. Jacob, David W. Keith, Nathaniel O. Keohane, Michael Oppenheimer, Joseph D. Roy-Mayhew, Daniel P. Schrag, Stephen W. Pacala
Science Magazine, Vol. 356, Issue 6337
2017 Climate variability and migration in the Philippines
2017 Letter- The Social Cost of Carbon: A Global Imperative
Richard L. Revesz, Jason A. Schwartz, Peter H. Howard, Kenneth Arrow, Michael A. Livermore, Michael Oppenheimer, and Thomas Sterner Letter to the Editor: Review of Environmental Economics and Policy Vol. 11, issue 1, pp. 172-173
2017 IPCC Reasons for Concern regarding climate change risks
Brian C. O'Neill, Michael Oppenheimer, Rachel Warren, Stephane Hallegatte, Robert E. Kopp, Hans O. Pörtner, Robert Scholes, Joern Birkmann, Wendy Foden, Rachel Licker, Katharine J. Mach, Phillippe Marbaix, Michael Mastrandrea, Jeff Price, Kiyoshi Takahashi, Jean-Pascal van Ypersele and Gary Hohe;
Nature Climate Change 4 January 2017/ DOI:10.1038/nclimate3179
2016 How high will the seas rise?
Richard Alley and Michael Oppenheimer; Science, 16 December 2016, Vol. 354, Issue 6318, pp. 1375-1377
2016 Paris: Beyond the Climate Dead End Through Pledge and Review?
Robert Keohane and Michael Oppenheimer , Politics and Governance 4, No. 3
2016 Allowances for evolving coastal flood risk under uncertain local sea-level rise
Maya K. Buchanan, Robert E. Kopp, Michael Oppenheimer, Claudia Tebaldi; Climatic Change 137, 347–36.
2016 The Influence of Climate Variability on Internal Migration Flows in South Africa
With Marina Mastrorillo, Rachel Licker, Pratikshya Bohra-Mishra, Giorgio Fagiolo, Lyndon D. Estes; Global Environmental Change, Volume 39, July 2016, Pages 155–169
2016 Mapping the climate change challenge
With Stephane Hallegatte, Joeri Rogelj, Myles Allen, Leon Clarke, Ottmar Edenhofer, Christopher B. Field, Pierre Friedlingstein, Line van Kesteren, Reto Knutti, Katharine J. Mach, Michael Mastrandrea, Adrien Michel, Jan Minx, Gian-Kasper Plattner, Keywan Riahi, Michiel Schaeffer, Thomas F. Stocker & Detlef P. van Vuuren; Nature Climate Change 6, 663–668 (2016) doi:10.1038/nclimate3057
2016 Make climate-change assessments more relevant
With Stéphane Hallegatte, Katharine J. Mach, Miles Allen, Leon Clarke, Ottmar Edenhofer, Christopher B. Field,Pierre Friedlingstein, Line van Kesteren, Reto Knutti, Michael Mastrandrea, Adrien Michel,Jon Minx, Gian-Kasper Plattner, Keywan Riahi, Joeri Rogelj, Michiel Schaeffer, Thomas F. Stocker, Detlef P. van Vuuren; Nature Vol. 534
2016 Expert judgement and uncertainty quantification for climate change
Michael Oppenheimer, Christopher M. Little & Roger M. Cooke; Nature Climate Change 6, 445–451 (2016) doi:10.1038/nclimate2959
2015 Developing country finance in a post-2020 global climate agreement
(P Hannam, Z Liao, SJ Davis, M Oppenheimer), Nature Climate Change 5, 983–987 (2015) doi:10.1038/nclimate2731, Published online 23 October 2015
(D Li, E Bou-Zeid, M Oppenheimer), Environ. Res. Lett. 9 (2014) 055002 doi:10.1088/1748-9326/9/5/055002
2013 A probabilistic assessment of sea level variations within the Last Interglacial stage
(Kopp et al), Geophysical Journal International; doi: 10.1093/gji/ggt029
2013 Comparing mechanistic and empirical model projections of crop suitability and productivity: Implications for ecological forecasting
(Estes et al), Global Ecology and Biogeography, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/geb.12034/pdf.
2013 Probabilistic framework for assessing the ice sheet contribution to sea level change
(CM Little, NM Urban, M Oppenheimer), PNAS 110, 3264-69
2013 Upper bounds on twenty-first-century Antarctic ice loss assessed using a probabilistic framework
(CM Little, M Oppenheimer, NM Urban), Nature Climate Change 3, 654- 659 doi:10.1038/nclimate1845
Climate change impacts: accounting for the human response
(M. Oppenheimer) Climatic Change DOI 10.1007/s 10584-012-0571-9
» Linkages among climate change, crop yields and Mexico-US cross-border migration
See also correction at: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/08/17/1212226109
The Rapid Disintegration of Predictions: Climate Science, Bureaucratic Institutions, and the West Antarctic ice sheet
(J O’Reilly, N Oreskes, M Oppenheimer), Social Studies of Science DOI: 10.1177/0306312712448130
Evaluation, Characterization, and Communication of Uncertainty by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
(G Yohe, M Oppenheimer), Climatic Change 108:629–639 DOI 10.1007/s10584-011-0176-8
Physically-based Assessment of Hurricane Surge Threat under Climate Change
(N Lin, K Emanuel, M Oppenheimer, E Vanmarcke), Nature Climate Change 2, 462-467 DOI: 10.1038/NCLIMATE1389
Climate Change, Crop Yields, and Internal Migration in the United States
(S Feng, M Oppenheimer, W Schlenker) , NBER working paper 17734
Predicting how adaptation to climate change could affect ecological conservation: secondary impacts of shifting agricultural suitability
(B Bradley et al), Diversity and Distributions, 18, 425-437
Evaluation, Characterization, and Communication of Uncertainty by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
(G Yohe, M Oppenheimer), Climatic Change108:629–639 DOI 10.1007/s10584-011-0176-8
Characterizing uncertainty in expert panel assessments
(J O’Reilly, et al), WIREs Clim Change 2, 728–743 DOI: 10.1002/wcc.135
» Probabilistic assessment of sea level during the Last Interglacial stage
(RE Kopp et al), Nature 462, 963-868, doi:10.1038/nature08686ial stage
Ice Shelf Morphology and the Efficiency of Basal Melting
(CM Little, A Gnanadesikan, M Oppenheimer), J. Geophysical Res. 114, C12007, doi:10.1029/2008JC005197
A force to fight global warming
(2009, W Turner et al), Nature 462, 278-9.
Fixing a critical climate accounting error
(2009), T SearchingerScience 326, 527–528, DOI: 10.1126/science.1178797 et al),
Assessing dangerous climate change through an update of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) "reasons for concern"
(with many authors), PNAS
Climate Change and Plant Invasions: Potential Restoration Opportunities Ahead
(2009 Bradley et al) Global Change Biology 15, 1511-1521, doi:10.1111/j. 1365-2486. 2008.01824.x
Learning about Ozone Depletion
(2008, PJ Crutzen and M Oppenheimer), Climatic Change 89, 143-154 DOI 10.1007/s10584-008-9400-6atic
Atmospheric stabilization and the timing of carbon mitigation
(with B K. Mignone & R.H. Socolow & J.L. Sarmiento) Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2007, Climatic Change DOI 10.1007/s10584-007-9391-8
The Limit of Consensus
(2007, M Oppenheimer et al), Science 317, 1501-1506
Carbon Trading over Taxes
(2007, B Chameides and M Oppenheimer), Science 315, 1670)
A “Manhattan Project" for climate change?
(2007, C-J Yang and M Oppenheimer), Climatic Change 80, 199-204, 10.1007/s10584-006-9202-7
"Model-based Assessment of the Role of Human-induced Climate Change in the 2005 Caribbean Coral Bleaching Event"
(with S.D. Donner and T.R. Knutson) (ABSTRACT) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0610122104, 2006.
"Coral Reefs Reduce Tsunami impact in Model Simulations"
(with C. W. Kunkel and R.W. Hallberg ) J. Geophysical Res. 33, L23612,doi:10.1029/2006GL027892,2006.
"Global Warming: The Psychology of Long Term Risk"
(with A. Todorov) Climatic Change (2006) 77: 1-6 DOI: 10.1007/s10584-006-9086-6
"Global assessment of coral bleaching and required rates of adaptation under climate change"
(with S. Donner, W.J. Skirving, C.M. Little and O. Hoegh-Guldberg). Global Change Biology (2005) 11, 2251-2265, doi:10.1111/j.1365-2486.2005.01073x
“Article 2 of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC): Historical Origins, Recent Interpretations,”
(with A. Petsonk).Climatic Change,73,195-226, 2005.
“Ice Sheets, Global Warming, and Article 2 of the UNFCCC,”
(with R. B. Alley), Climatic Change, 68, 257-267, 2005.
“Dangerous Climate Impacts and the Kyoto Protocol,”
(with Brian C. O’Neill), Science, 296, 1971-1972, 14 June 2002.
Other recent papers, reports and speeches:
Liquid Transportation Fuels from Coal and Biomass (2009),
National Academy of Sciences, Report of the Panel of Alternative Liquid Transportation Fuels
The Global Warming Challenge : Can Policy Catch up with the Science?
remarks prepared for the Washington D.C.Conference, March 2009
Understanding the causes and implications of climate change (2009),
in Climate Finance: Regulatory and Funding Strategies for Climate Change and Global Development,R Stewart, B Kingsbury, B Rudyk, eds, NYU press, a www.climatefinance.org.
"Future Sea Level Rise and the New Jersey Coast: Assessing Potential Impacts and Opportunities"
(with M.J.P. Cooper and M. Beevers). November, 16, 2005.
"Emissions Pathways to Avoid Dangerous Climate Change -- A Trans-Atlantic View,"
(with Carlo Jaeger), INTACT, SWP Berlin, June 2005.
“Reinvigorating the Kyoto System, and Beyond: Maintaining the Fundamental Architecture, Meeting Long-Term Goals”
(with Annie Petsonk), prepared for presentation at the Council on Foreign Relations, Sept. 20, 2004.