Month: April 2015

Hans-Peter Plag spoke at May monthly dinner: adapting to the future climate.

Hans-Peter Plag spoke at May monthly dinner: adapting to the future climate.

Hans-Peter Plag, Professor, Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, and Director of the Mitigation and Adaptation Research Institute at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA spoke about how society can prepare for the changes in our earth due to climate and global changes that are taking now taking place world wide.

ECWG Han-Peter Plag 2

His talk was entitled: “Preparing for a Journey into the Unknown: The Transition to the Post-Holocene.”

Some scientists propose that we call this new period the “Anthropocene”, geologic chronological term that begins when human activities have had a significant global impact on the Earth’s ecosystems. See Science: 3 April, 2015,Vol 348, Issue 6239, p38-39.

Since the last ice age, about 12,000 years ago the earth has experienced a  period of exceptionally stable climate favoring our transition from hunters and gathers to agriculture. This relatively warm period is known as the Holocene epoch.  During the last 6,000 years there has been very little change in the amount of water locked up as ice on Greenland and Antarctica so the sea level has been exceptionally stable, allowing humanity to build permanent settlements in coastal areas and, in particular, river deltas and utilize the many benefits of these areas.

Fema-Surge Sandy with textHowever in the past 100 years as world temperatures have warmed ice shelf melt from Greenland and Antarctica have increased sea levels on average 8 inches world wide. Flood damage from Hurricane Sandy was enhanced compared to what it might have been 100 years ago because of today’s higher ocean level.

In the past couple of hundred years humanity has introduced extreme and rapid changes in the coupled human-environmental system: increased CO2 and CH4 into the atmosphere, land clearing practices, agricultural practices, soil erosion, etc.

Prof. Plat argues these changes have pushed us out of the Holocene into a Post-Holocene, or Anthropocene (from Greek anthropos: human being).

In the Post-Holocene, Earth will be a planet unknown to humanity. Our inevitable journey to the unknown new Earth may turn out to be the greatest challenge  humanity has to face since the super-eruption of Toba about 75,000 years ago, estimated to have caused a 10 year long winter worldwide.  Fundamental changes of our way to interact with the Earth’s life-support system are needed to make this journey less threatening for modern society.

Prof. Plag is also Editor-in-Chief: Journal of Physics and Chemistry of the Earth. His column, “On the Edge”,  can be found at                                                    the MARI site is here:                                                                   and his bio is here:

Saturday, May 16th, 2015: 6-9 PM

“Preparing for a Journey into the Unknown: The Transition to the Post-Holocene”

Please reserve  ____  places for

Name _____________Guest name(s)_____________________________       Number of vegetarian meals (if any) desired __________________________ Organization Affiliation if other than ECWG  _________________________

Number of dinners @ $55 each ____________  

Enclosed is a check for $  _______________ (Make check payable to “ECWG”)

Send form and payment to:

Arnella Trent, 115 Willis Street, Cambridge, MD  21613-1618     Phone: 301-526-0822,

No cancellations will be accepted after Tuesday evening, May 12, 2015

The next ECWG event will be the summer picnic, date to be announced soon.   Forthcoming 2015 ECWG Dinners at the Cosmos Club:                                             September. 19 (NOAA’s Kathy Sullivan),   November 21,  and December 5.

ECWG website:

Memorial service for Richard R. Randall FE’79: April 11, 2015

Memorial service for Richard R. Randall FE’79: April 11, 2015

Richard R. Randal FE’79 passed away on March 14th, 2015 at the age of 89.   Dick was on our ECWG Steering Committee for 10 years (1998-2007) and Chair of our Education Committee for nine of those years.

A memorial service was held at 11:00 AM on April the 11th, 2015 at the Cleveland Congregational Church, 3400 Lowell  Street, NW, Washington, DC. where Dick was a member for 40 years.

Dr. Randall was awarded the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantryman Badge, and four Battle Stars for his service in WWII in Europe. He received his PhD in geography from Clark University in 1955 and was a Fulbright scholar.

After a few years with the Central Intelligence Agency he became the Washington representative for Rand McNally and Company. There he designed the first series of maps showing the world’s ocean and water bodies in Rand’s major atlas: the Cosmopolitan Atlas.

From 1973 to his retirement in 1993 he worked as Geographer, Defense Mapping Agency (now the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency). He served as the Executive Secretary for the US Board on Geographic Names.

In 2001 Dr. Randall published “Place Names: How They Define the World and More.”Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 9.10.58 PM

“He demonstrated how place names have become
essential elements of our everyday vocabulary, and are
ingredients of music and literature. He explored the
political importance of place names in military and
diplomatic matters and described various disputed and
controversial location names. A section is devoted to his work on the importance of identifying and naming undersea features”  (AAG).

Dr. Randall remained an active member of the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping, the American Geographical Society, the Association of American Geographers, the Cosmos Club, and the Explorers Club.

Mt. Randall, Antarctica, named after Richard Randall.
Mt. Randall, Antarctica,
named after Richard Rainier Randall.

His middle name, Rainier, came from his relative Admiral Peter Rainier, after whom Mount Rainier was named.  One year after his retirement the Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names named a 3,000 meter mountain on the southern most continent Mount Randall in recognition of his contributions to geographic names worldwide.




Dick Randall will be remembered for his passion for singing in the Cleveland Park Congregational Church Choir as well as high his contributions to the Association American Geographers Careers in Geography program.


Washington Post: