Andrew Dessler

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Andrew Dessler
Born1964 (age 58–59)
Alma materRice University,
Harvard University
Scientific career
FieldsAtmospheric Science, climatology
InstitutionsUniversity of Maryland,
Texas A&M University
ThesisIn situ stratospheric ozone measurements[1] (1994)
Doctoral advisorJames G. Anderson

Andrew Emory Dessler (born 1964) is a climate scientist. He is Professor of Atmospheric Sciences and holder of the Reta A. Haynes Chair in Geoscience at Texas A&M University. He is also the Director of the Texas Center for Climate Studies. His research subject areas include climate impacts, global climate physics, atmospheric chemistry, climate change and climate change policy.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Dessler was born in 1964, in Houston, Texas to Alex Dessler and Lorraine Barbara Dessler.[3] He received a B.A. in physics from Rice University in 1986 and an M.A. and Ph.D in chemistry from Harvard University in 1990 and 1994.[2][4] His doctoral thesis was titled In situ stratospheric ozone measurements.[1]


Dessler worked in the energy group at The First Boston Corporation doing mergers and acquisitions analysis in the mid-1980s.[5] He left his job as an investment banker on Wall Street in 1988 to go to graduate school in chemistry.[6] After receiving his Ph.D. in 1994, Dessler did two years of Postdoctoral research at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and then spent nine years on the research faculty of the University of Maryland from 1996 to 2005.[7] Dessler went on to become an Associate Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas A&M University from 2005 to 2007 and has been a tenured Professor of Atmospheric Sciences there since 2007.[2]

He served as an editor for the American Geophysical Union Books Board from 1997 to 2002, and an associate editor for the Journal of Geophysical Research in 2002.[8]

Dessler also served as a Senior Policy Analyst in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy for the last year of the Clinton administration. That experience was the basis for the book he co-authored, The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change: A Guide to the Debate.[7]

He also published a blog for Grist magazine from 2006 to 2009.[9] He later stated, "At first, I was enamoured with blogging, until I realized how repetitive it was to keep answering the same questions. I decided I wanted a more high-impact way to spend my time."[10] The New York Times said the results of his 2004 article in the Journal of Climate written with Ken Minschwaner placed them, "in the middle between the skeptics and those who argue that warming caused by burning of fossil fuels could be extremely severe."[11] The authors wrote a joint letter to the editor in response objecting to the impression given by the article that their "research goes against the consensus scientific view that global warming is a serious concern." They went on to state their work did not argue against the seriousness of the problem and that the potential effects were so serious "that slight overestimates of this warming make little difference -- just as reducing the size of a firing squad from 10 shooters to nine makes little difference to the person being executed."[12] A 2009 article in Science showed "warming from rising carbon dioxide should also lead to increased water vapor and additional warming, doubling the warming effect of the carbon dioxide." according to Kenneth Chang of The New York Times.[13]

Currently, Dessler is an editor of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society[14] and president-elect of the Global Environmental Change section of the American Geophysical Union.[15] He is also the Director of the Texas Center for Climate Studies[16] and holder of the Rita A. Haynes Chair in Geosciences at Texas A&M University.[17]


Dessler and Edward Parson co-authored, The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change: A Guide to the Debate in 2006 (2nd ed. 2009). It was described as, "a fascinating hybrid of science and policy directed at a broad or nonspecialist audience" by Wendy Gordon in a 2008 review in Eos. Gordon's review was positive concluding, "I could comfortably recommend this book to friend and colleagues." and that it would be "an excellent resource for a high school of college-level survey course in either environmental studies or public policy."[18] It also received a favorable review in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society by Paul Higgins. Higgins noted the book's, "careful reasoning and thoughtful presentation" and stated it was a sound guide to the climate change debate.[19] Concluding a generally positive review Randall Wigle writing in Canadian Public Policy stated, "...I believe it is a good candidate for a primer for multidisciplinary classes devoted to climate change policy, but it would have been an even better one with less advocacy of one side of the argument."[20] Maria Ivanova wrote in Global Environmental Politics that the book's scholarly value was indisputable.[21] Writing in New Scientist in 2006 Adrian Barnett said, "Free copies should be shipped to anyone who doubts the reality of climate change, starting with presidents in denial."[22] The book also received very positive reviews in Chromatographia, the Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) and Environmental Sciences.[23][24][25]

In 2012 Dessler wrote Introduction to Modern Climate Change "a textbook for non-science majors that uniquely immerses the reader in the science, impacts, economics, policies and political debate associated with climate change."[26] It received an award from the American Meteorological Society in 2014.[26] It was favorably reviewed by Cameron Reed in Physics & Society who said, "The writing is clear, has a nice balance of formal and informal prose, and includes occasional elements of dry humor to lighten discussions of otherwise very serious issues."[27] It is used in classes in environmental sciences and the science and policy of climate change.[28][29][30][31]

Climate change policy[edit]

...the climate is warming...humans are in the driver's seat...if nothing is done to rein in emissions, temperatures will likely increase enough to profoundly change the planet.

— Andrew Dessler

Dessler has been consulted by newspapers and has given talks on climate change and government policy. On January 16, 2014 he testified before the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.[32] He stated that with almost 200 years of study by the scientific community of the climate system a robust understanding has emerged. He continued stating, the climate is warming and "humans are now in the driver's seat". He concluded, "We know that, over the next century, if nothing is done to rein in emissions, temperatures will likely increase enough to profoundly change the planet."[33] He gave a talk at the Goddard Space Flight Center in 2013 titled, "The Alternate Reality of Climate Skeptics" in which he explained how "climate skeptics have constructed an alternate reality to believe it [sic]. In this way, the debate over climate change turns into a debate over which reality should be believed."[34] In 2010 when US Senator James Inhofe attempted to block the US Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, Dessler told reporters he was confident that individual errors don't invalidate the scientific consensus that global temperature is rising stating, "That's not how science works." He asserted his confidence that the climate is warming due to human activity and that this will have "catastrophic impacts" stating, "The evidence includes a mountain of data." Dessler cited replication by multiple institutions as support.[35]

Dessler has suggested that scientists advocating for climate change mitigation should tell their personal stories and that this would reveal the strategy of ad hominem attacks by climate change deniers, an attempt to portray scientists to audiences as "not 'like them.'" He said by revealing their backstory scientists can build trust and show people that they share their values.[36] In December 2013 Dessler spoke at a workshop about his experiences with a request for all of his emails at Texas A&M from the American Tradition Institute's Chris Horner using the Texas Public Information Act.[37][38] He had received support from Scott Mandia of the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund, the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and the Union of Concerned Scientists.[37]

Texas and politics[edit]

When then presidential candidate Rick Perry suggested that scientists were frequently questioning "that manmade global warming is what is causing the climate to change." Dessler was interviewed by NPR to represent the mainstream scientific consensus.[39] With Perry's home state suffering a severe drought, Dessler (a native Texan) did not attribute the extreme weather that year (2011) to climate change, but he said, "We can be confident we’ve made this hellish summer worse than it would have been."[40]

Clouds and climate change[edit]

A front page article in The New York Times examining the theory that clouds might offset the effects of increased greenhouse gasses found that his analysis in a 2011 article in Geophysical Research Letters "offered some evidence that clouds will exacerbate the long-term planetary warming"[41][42] Following the publication of the New York Times article "Dessler became a target of climate science critics" and was interviewed on the PBS show Frontline for the episode "Climate of Doubt" which explored "the massive shift in public opinion on climate change."[37][43] As a visiting fellow at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences in 2013 and 2014 he is undertaking a project titled, "Understanding long-term variations in stratospheric water vapor."[44] In a November 2013 article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Dessler and colleagues provide observational evidence of a positive feedback effect of stratospheric water vapor and global warming.[45][46]

Personal life[edit]

Dessler was described as an avid glider pilot in 2006.[7] He is married with two children and lives in College Station, Texas.[47]

Awards and honors[edit]


Books authored[edit]

  • The Chemistry and Physics of Stratospheric Ozone. San Diego: Academic Press. 2000. ISBN 9780122120510.
  • Introduction to Modern Climate Change. New York: Cambridge University Press. 2012. ISBN 9781107001893.

Books co-authored[edit]

—; Parson, Edward Anthony (2006). The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change: A Guide to the Debate (1st ed.). New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521831703. (2009. 2nd ed. ISBN 9780521519243).

Selected articles[edit]


  1. ^ a b Dessler, Andrew (1994). In situ stratospheric ozone measurements (Ph.D. thesis). Harvard University. OCLC 31829636.Abstract.
  2. ^ a b c "Profile: Dr. Andrew Dessler". Department of Atmospheric Sciences website. College of Geosciences, Texas A&M University. Archived from the original on 2022-06-29. Retrieved 2022-08-19.
  3. ^ "Andrew Emory Dessler". Texas, Birth Index, 1903-1997. Intellectual Reserve. Retrieved 2013-07-29.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "2009 Academic Program Review" (PDF). Department of Atmospheric Sciences, College of Geosciences, Texas A&M University. 2009. p. 85. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-07-05. Retrieved 2013-07-28.
  5. ^ Dessler 2012, Introduction.
  6. ^ Dessler, Andrew (September 2, 2011). "Perry shoots the messenger on climate change". Houston Chronicle. McClatchy-Tribune News Service. Retrieved 2013-07-28.
  7. ^ a b c "4th International Conference on SF6 and the Environment: Speaker Biographies" (PDF). United States Environmental Protection Agency. 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-10-13. Retrieved 2013-07-28.
  8. ^ 2009 Academic Program Review 2009, p. 86.
  9. ^ "Andrew Dessler's Posts". Grist Magazine. Retrieved 2013-07-28.
  10. ^ a b Gewin, Virginia (March 9, 2011). "Turning point: Andrew Dessler". Nature. 471 (7337): 257. doi:10.1038/nj7337-257a.
  11. ^ "Study disputes idea on global warming". The New York Times. Associated Press. March 18, 2004. Retrieved 2013-07-29.
  12. ^ Dessler, A.E.; Minschwaner, K. (March 23, 2004). "Global warming study". The New York Times (Letter to the Editor). Retrieved 2013-07-29.
  13. ^ Chang, Kenneth (December 15, 2009). "Weather device also tracks greenhouse gas". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-07-29.
  14. ^ "BAMS Editors and Staff Contacts". American Meteorological Society. Archived from the original on 2022-08-19.
  15. ^ "AGU: Current Section Executive Committee". Archived from the original on 2022-08-19.
  16. ^ "Contact Us". Texas A&M University. The College of Geosciences. Archived from the original on 2022-08-19.
  17. ^ "Chairs & PRofessorships". Texas A&M University. Archived from the original on 2022-08-19.
  18. ^ Gordon, Wendy S. (2008). "The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change: A Guide to the Debate". Eos, Transactions, American Geophysical Union (book review). 89 (36): 335. Bibcode:2008EOSTr..89..335G. doi:10.1029/2008eo360010.
  19. ^ Higgins, Paul A.T. (2007). "The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change: A Guide to the Debate". Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (book review). 88 (4): 572–3.
  20. ^ Wigle, Randall M. (2006). "The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change: A Guide to the Debate". Canadian Public Policy (book review). 32 (4): 443–4. doi:10.2307/4128717. JSTOR 4128717.
  21. ^ Ivanova, Maria (2007). "The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change: A Guide to the Debate" (PDF). Global Environmental Politics (book review). 7 (2): 145–7. doi:10.1162/glep.2007.7.2.145. S2CID 154256565.
  22. ^ Barnett, Adrian (February 25, 2006). "For people who live in greenhouses". New Scientist. No. 2540. p. 54.
  23. ^ Adlard, E.R. (2006). "The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change: A Guide to the Debate". Chromatographia (book review). 63 (11–12): 641–642. doi:10.1365/s10337-006-0834-6. S2CID 189825736.
  24. ^ Reay, Dave (May 26, 2006). "Tell gran just how hot it is". Times Higher Education Supplement (THES).
  25. ^ Corbera, Esteve (2006). "The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change: A Guide to the Debate". Environmental Sciences (book review). 3 (4): 289–91. doi:10.1080/15693430600819154.
  26. ^ a b c "2014 Honorary Members, Awards, Lecturers and Fellows". American Meteorological Society. p. 3. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
  27. ^ Reed, Cameron (April 2013). "Introduction to Modern Climate Change". Physics & Society (book review). American Physical Society. Retrieved 2014-03-04.
  28. ^ "ENVS 330-000: Climatology (Spring 2013)". Emory University course catalog. Atlanta, GA: Emory University. Retrieved 2013-08-01.
  29. ^ Gerber, Edwin. "Fall 2013: The Science and Policy of Climate Change" (PDF). College of Arts and Science; New York University. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2014-03-04.
  30. ^ "GEG6214 Science and Politics of Climate Change". School of Geography; Queen Mary University of London. Archived from the original on 2014-03-04. Retrieved 2014-03-04.
  31. ^ Mark, Bryan G. (2014). "Geography 3901H: Global Climate and Environmental Change: Spring 2014 Syllabus" (PDF). Ohio State University. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-03-04. Retrieved 2014-03-04.
  32. ^ Dessler, Andrew (January 16, 2014). Climate Change Policy (video of testimony before the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works). C-SPAN. Event occurs at 02:58:45.
  33. ^ Dessler, Andrew. "What we know about climate change". (written testimony). US Senate. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
  34. ^ "614 Visiting Lecturer Bonus Lecture: The Alternate Reality of Climate Skeptics". Sciences and Exploration Directorate website. Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA. April 18, 2013. Retrieved 2013-07-28.
  35. ^ "Climate science controversy flares in EPA budget hearing". Environment News Service. February 23, 2010. Retrieved 2014-03-04.
  36. ^ Dessler, Andrew (September 20, 2013). "What scientists should talk about: Their personal stories". Climate Consensus - The 97%. The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-03-04.
  37. ^ a b c Ogburn, Stephanie Paige (January 21, 2014). "Climate scientists, facing skeptics' demands for personal emails, learn how to cope". Environment & Energy Publishing. ClimateWire. Retrieved 2014-03-04.
  38. ^ Sturgis, Sue (July 19, 2012). "Climate science attack group turns sights on Texas professors". Facing South. Institute for Southern Studies. Archived from the original on March 28, 2014. Retrieved March 4, 2014.
  39. ^ Burnett, John (September 7, 2011). "Drought, Wildfires Haven't Changed Perry's Climate-Change Views" (blog). NPR. Retrieved 2013-07-29.
  40. ^ Keller, Bill (October 10, 2011). "Life without government" (blog). The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-07-28.
  41. ^ Gillis, Justin (April 30, 2012). "Clouds' effect on climate change is last bastion for dissenters". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-07-28.
  42. ^ Dessler, Andrew E. (October 1, 2011). "Cloud variations and the Earth's energy budget". Geophysical Research Letters. 38 (9): L19701. Bibcode:2011GeoRL..3819701D. CiteSeerX doi:10.1029/2011GL049236.
  43. ^ Upin, Catherine; Hockenberry, John (October 23, 2012). "Climate of Doubt". Frontline. PBS. transcript. Retrieved 2013-07-29. Transcript of interview. August 14, 2012.
  44. ^ a b "Andrew Dessler CIRES' Visiting Fellow". Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES). Archived from the original on 2014-03-04. Retrieved 2014-03-04.
  45. ^ Dessler, A.E.; Schoeberl, M.R.; Wanga, T.; Davis, S.M.; et al. (2013). "Stratospheric water vapor feedback". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 110 (45): 18087–91. Bibcode:2013PNAS..11018087D. doi:10.1073/pnas.1310344110. PMC 3831493. PMID 24082126.
  46. ^ "Water vapor in the upper atmosphere amplifies global warming". CSD News & Events. Chemical Sciences Division (CSD); Earth System Research Laboratory; Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); US Dept. of Commerce. September 30, 2013.
  47. ^ "About the author". Retrieved 2018-10-24.
  48. ^ "Dessler, Andrew Emory". National Research Council Associateships Program Directory. National Academy of Sciences. 2008. Retrieved 2013-07-29.
  49. ^ "The Leopold Leadership Program: Fellows: Andrew Dessler". Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment; Stanford University. Retrieved 2014-03-04.
  50. ^ "Making sense of science: Introducing the Google Science Communication Fellows". Google official blog. February 15, 2011. Retrieved 2013-07-28.
  51. ^ Riedel, Karen (2011). "Andrew Dessler named Google Science Communication Fellow" (Press release). College of Geosciences, Texas A&M University. Retrieved 2013-07-28.
  52. ^ "Sigma Xi Announces Recipients of 2011 Awards". Texas A&M University Marketing and Communications Archive. Texas A&M University. Archived from the original on 2014-03-06. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
  53. ^ Webster, Peter J. (2013). "Dessler, Jimenez, Klein, and Nenes receive 2012 Atmospheric Sciences Ascent awards: Citation for Andrew E. Dessler". Eos, Transactions, American Geophysical Union. 94 (45): 413. Bibcode:2013EOSTr..94Q.413W. doi:10.1002/2013EO450008.
  54. ^ West, Lowell (July 16, 2011). "Texas A&M atmospheric scientist receives national award". Geosciences News. Texas A&M University. Archived from the original on March 6, 2014. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
  55. ^ "H. Burr Steinbach Visiting Scholars Program: Past Visiting Scholars". Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program. Archived from the original on 2016-06-03. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
  56. ^ "Advanced Study Program: Thompson Lecture Series Archive". National Center for Atmospheric Research, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. Archived from the original on 2014-01-22. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
  57. ^ Bell, Robin; Holmes, Mary (2019). "2019 Class of AGU Fellows Announced". Eos. 100. doi:10.1029/2019eo131029. Retrieved 2020-06-19.
  58. ^ Branch, Glenn (August 26, 2022). "Friend of Darwin and Friend of the Planet awards for 2022". National Center for Science Education. Archived from the original on 15 September 2022. Retrieved 18 September 2022.

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