State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

In Memoriam: Stuart Gaffin

Columbia University celebrates the life and mourns the passing of Stuart Gaffin, research scientist at The Earth Institute’s Center for Climate Systems Research and NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Prior to joining Columbia in 2001, Stuart was a senior scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund in New York City from 1990 to 2001. He obtained his Ph.D. in Atmospheric Physics from the Earth Systems Group at New York University. Stuart’s life and work advanced science and education related to change climate change, climate adaptation and urban green infrastructure. He died on February 9th, 2019, at the age of 62.

As a research scientist at Columbia University from 2001 to 2019, Stuart developed pioneering methodologies, important results, and key publications relating to green infrastructure, urban heat island effects, New York City’s resilience to climate hazards, greenhouse gas emissions scenarios, and socio-economic projections. He was among the authors recognized for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize shared by the IPCC and Al Gore. His legacy as a scientist, educator, collaborator, colleague, and friend will always be remembered by those with whom he interacted.

As faculty at Columbia University, he developed the Earth Institute’s first course on the urban heat island effect in 2005, and for many years taught the capstone course for the Undergraduate Program in Sustainable Development. At NASA GISS, he led teams of students and teachers through the NASA Education Program with the express goal of infusing rigorous research into science education.

In addition to collaborating with researchers and scientists at Columbia University and NASA, Stuart interacted with many stakeholders and organizations in New York City and beyond. His clients for the Sustainable Development capstone included Bronx River Alliance, The Highline, the Javits Center, and World Wildlife Fund, among others.

Stuart installed a network of green and urban roof monitoring and atmospheric research stations throughout the New York City area. These unique observational nodes, which were located at sites in the boroughs of Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn, included green roof observatories at Fieldston and Regis schools, the Javits Center, and Columbia University, among others. These stations continue to provide a unique data set that can inform solutions for distributed stormwater runoff control, atmospheric forecasts, modeling of building energy demands and climate impacts.

On May 10 there will be an event to celebrate the life and research of Stuart Gaffin, organized by his colleagues and collaborators. Please RSVP by May 3, 2019.

If you wish to make a donation to the scholarship fund in Stuart’s name with The Opportunity Network, you may do so here.

We invite you to share your condolences and memories of Stuart in our online Guest Book.

Columbia campus skyline with text Columbia Climate School Class Day 2024 - Congratulations Graduates

Congratulations to our Columbia Climate School MA in Climate & Society Class of 2024! Learn about our May 10 Class Day celebration. #ColumbiaClimate2024

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