Michael Oppenheimer

Director of the Center for Policy Research on Energy and Environment
Albert G. Milbank Professor of Geosciences, International Affairs, and HMEI
Email Address: 
Office Location: 
313 Robertson Hall

Michael Oppenheimer is the Albert G. Milbank Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs in the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA), the Department of Geosciences, and the High Meadows Environmental Institute at Princeton University. He is the Director of the Center for Policy Research on Energy and the Environment (C-PREE) at SPIA and Faculty Associate of the Atmospheric and Ocean Sciences Program 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 non-governmental, environmental organization, where he served as chief scientist and manager of the Climate and Air Program.  He continues to serve as a science advisor to EDF.

He is the author of over 200 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. He is coauthor of the book Discerning Experts: The Practices of Scientific Assessment for Environmental Policy, published in 2020 by the University of Chicago Press.

Oppenheimer is a long-time participant in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, most recently serving  as a Coordinating Lead Author on IPCC’s Special Report on Oceans and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (2019) and as a Review Editor on the upcoming Sixth Assessment Report. Oppenheimer served previously as a member of several panels of the National Academy of Sciences as well as the National Academies’ Board on Energy and Environmental Studies and the New York City Panel on Climate Change, providing technical advice to the City. He is also a winner of the 2010 Heinz Award and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Oppenheimer is co-editor-in-chief of interdisciplinary scientific journal, Climatic Change .

His interests include science and policy of the atmosphere, particularly climate change, the risks and impacts climate change entails, and adaptation and other human responses. 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 understanding problems of global change.

In the late 1980's, Dr. 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. Dr. Oppenheimer has been a guest on many television and radio programs, including ABC's This Week, The News HourThe Oprah Winfrey ShowColbert Report, and 60 Minutes.

Prior to his position at The Environmental Defense Fund, Dr. Oppenheimer served as Atomic and Molecular Astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Lecturer on Astronomy at Harvard University. He received an S.B. in chemistry from M.I.T., a Ph.D. in chemical physics from the University of Chicago, and pursued post-doctoral research at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

For more information on Oppenheimer, visit his website.

Publications List: 

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
Maya K Buchanan, Michael Oppenheimer, and Robert E Kopp ,Published 7 June 2017 • © 2017 IOP Publishing Ltd
Environmental Research Letters, Volume 12, Number 6

2017 Estimating economic damage from climate change in the United States
Solomon Hsiang, Robert Kopp, Amir Jina, James Rising, Michael Delgado, Shashank Mohan, ,  D. J. Rasmussen, Robert Muir-Wood, Paul Wilson, Michael Oppenheimer, Kate Larsen, Trevor Houser
Science  30 Jun 2017:Vol. 356, Issue 6345, pp. 1362-1369,DOI: 10.1126/science.aal4369

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
Pratikshya Bohra-Mishra, Michael Oppenheimer, Ruohong Cai, Shuaizhang Feng, Rachel Licker;
Popul Environ (2017) 38:286–308DOI 10.1007/s11111-016-0263-x

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

 2014 The Effectiveness of Cool and Green Roofs as Urban Heat Island Mitigation Strategies

(D Li, E Bou-Zeid, M Oppenheimer), Environ. Res. Lett. 9 (2014) 055002 doi:10.1088/1748-9326/9/5/055002



2014 Improve economic models of climate change (Arrow et al), Nature 508, 173–175 (04 April 2014) | doi:10.1038/508173a


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

2013 A New Strategy for Global Climate Protection
(RB Stewart, M Oppenheimer, B Rudyk), Climatic Change , DOI 10.1007/s10584-013-0790-8


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

Negative Learning
(2008, M Oppenheimer et al), Climatic Change 89, 155-172 DOI 10.1007/s10584-008-9405-1

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.

» Minneapolis Westminster Town Hall Forum Speech, May 10, 2007

"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.