Laurence Smith

Chair and Professor Department of Geography

1127A Bunche Hall

Los Angeles, CA 90095-1524

Tel: (310) 825-3154


Download vCard


Ph.D Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, Cornell University, 1996

M.S. Earth Sciences, Indiana University, 1991

B.S. Earth Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1989

Research Interests

My research interests focus on hydrology and the effects of climate and environmental change, especially in northern environments.

There is now broad scientific consensus that the northern part of our planet is rapidly transforming in response to climate warming, demographic trends, and large discoveries of natural gas and oil. High public interest in the region is obvious from the recent proliferation of high-profile journalism on the subject, the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, and the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Such awareness has heightened the demand for accessible, science-based research on emerging issues facing northern countries and elsewhere in the world. Furthermore, the work must be presented in a form useful to policy and the general public as well as academics. To this end, I recently traveled extensively throughout the northern high latitudes, researching a scientifically rigorous yet accessible book titled THE WORLD IN 2050: Four Forces Shaping Civilization's Northern Future. A key quality of the book is its interweaving of rigorous science with personal observations and interviews of scientists, policy-makers, and local residents. Its objective is to provide a politically neutral synthesis of the physical, biological, and societal changes currently underway in the northern world, identify the challenges and benefits posed by continued warming and development in the region, and present an informed view of what the future may hold. It will be published by Dutton Books in September 2010.