Harry Dowsett, Ph.D.

Harry is a Research Geologist specializing in micropaleontology as well as Project Chief of Geological Investigations of the Neogene and PRISM Projects. His research provides crucial information on how the Earth responds to changing conditions for citizens and policy-makers. Harry is an expert in paleontology, environmental reconstruction, stratigraphic correlation and climate change.


Dr. Dowsett received his BA from Long Island University in Geology in 1981, MSc from The George Washington University in 1984, and PhD in Geology from Brown University in 1988. 

He was a National Research Council Post-doc at the USGS in Reston, VA 1987-1988 and has been a research scientist at USGS since 1988. In addition, he is an adjunct faculty at George Mason University's Environmental Science and Policy Department, Visiting Professor of Paleoceanography at University of Leeds School of Earth and Environment, and served as Associate Director of the National Science Foundation's Paleoclimate Program.

Dr. Dowsett’s research at the US Geological Survey in paleoclimatology, paleoceanography, biostratigraphy, paleoclimate modeling and stratigraphy has led to more than 140 co-authored scientific articles in journals including Science, Nature, Nature Geoscience, Nature Climate Change, Nature Publishing Group's Scientific Data and Scientific Reports, Royal Society Transactions, Geology, Geophysical Research Letters, Global and Planetary Change, Quaternary Science Reviews, Marine Micropaleontology, Micropaleontology, Stratigraphy, Paleocenaography and Paleoclimatology, and Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. Contributions also include many invited articles to proceedings volumes & encyclopedias. He was editor of the journals Micropaleontology and Stratigraphy, and serves on editorial boards for Micropaleontology, Stratigraphy, and Scientific Data. His service extends to frequent manuscript reviews for international journals, proposals to National Science Foundation, Natural Environmental Research Council, European Research Council and other funding agencies.

He has served on many USGS and academic committees and panels. He has published influential studies in the fields of micropaleontology, stratigraphy, sea level paleoclimatology and paleoceanography. He has been honored with invitations to speak at both national and international universities and agencies, and received the Presidents Medal (TMS London). His research has been reported in the media including NY Times, Washington Post, New Scientist, BBC, AP, and NOVA. He collaborates with colleagues from major research institutions across the US, Europe and Asia, and has mentored undergraduate, MSc and PhD students who have gone on to successful geoscience careers.

Dr. Dowsett's current research, Geological Investigations of the Neogene, is at the nexus of global scale geological data analysis and paleoclimate modeling, with special emphasis on environmental and ecological changes accompanying climate change along the eastern United States.

He is Co-Lead of the international Pliocene Model Intercomparison Project (PlioMIP). PlioMIP is an international climate modelling initiative to study and understand climate and environments of the Late Pliocene, and their potential relevance in the context of future climate change. PlioMIP operates under the umbrella of the Palaeoclimate Modelling Intercomparison Project (PMIP), which examines multiple intervals in Earth history, the consistency of model predictions in simulating these intervals, and their ability to reproduce geological climate archives. PlioMIP currently involves 20 research institutions.

Dr. Dowsett leads the international PRISM effort which focuses on the most recent period in geologic history bearing a resemblance to environmental projections for the 21st century. Through better understanding of past, present and future change, PRISM provides products designed to assist in:

  • Predicting the strength and frequency of El Nino events and the related risks of droughts and floods
  • Defining the bathymetric causes of Arctic sea ice variability for national security studies
  • Understanding the nature of upwelling and the effects on coastal and fishing industries
  • Reconstructing vegetation patterns to inform farming practices and legislation
  • Predicting potential sea level rise and the risk to population centers
  • Tracking storms and predicting the hydrological impact of modified atmospheric and oceanic energy transport systems
  • Identifying climate model biases and testing the accuracy of future climate models.


WebsitePliocene Research, Interpretation & Synoptic Mapping/ Global Warming Analysis

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