Top Influential Earth Scientists Today

Top Influential Earth Scientists Today

Earth scientists include meteorologists, geologists, physicists, geographers, mathematicians, and much more, all dedicated to seeking out the answers to our biggest questions about the planet we call home. Read on to learn more about outstanding academicians in the field of earth sciences and the exciting and innovative contributions they are developing for the broad study of earth sciences.

Considering a degree in Earth science? Visit Our Earth Sciences Page, where you’ll find the best Earth science colleges and universities, career information, interviews with top Earth scientists, influential scholars in the field of Earth science, great books, a history of the discipline, online sustainability degrees, and more.

The Earth sciences cover more than just the ground below us. It is essentially a planetary science, as it studies all of the elements that make up the physical nature of our planet. This includes everything from temperature fluctuations at the Earth’s poles to the role of pollution in climate change. It includes four main areas of study: the biosphere, atmosphere, lithosphere and hydrosphere. There are nearly infinite subdomains within those areas. Some scientists employ a very narrow focus and others view earth science holistically, as a sum of all its parts.

What do earth scientists do other than write textbooks and scholarly papers? They help our governments protect their citizens from dangerous weather events or natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tornadoes, and tropical cyclones. They crawl around in the mud, rappel into dark caves, ascend mountain summits, and log hours observing, recording, and analyzing data they have collected, in hopes of advancing our understanding of the world around us.

Interested in majoring in Earth science? To learn more about the most popular degrees in Earth science, check out our Student’s Guide to Earth Science.

In what follows, we look at influential earth scientists over the last decade. Based on our ranking methodology, these individuals have significantly impacted the academic discipline of earth science within 2010-2020. Influence can be produced in a variety of ways. Some have had revolutionary ideas, some may have climbed by popularity, but all are academicians primarily working in earth science. Read more about our methodology.

Note: This isn’t simply a list of the most influential earth scientists alive today. Here we are focused on the number of citations and web presence of scholars in the last 10 years. There are other highly influential scholars who simply haven’t been cited and talked about as much in the last 10 years, whereas some new faces have been making a splash in the news, speaking events, and publishing, publishing, publishing. Our AI is time sensitive. To find some of the big names you might have expected to see here, we encourage you to use our dynamic ranking system and check influence over the past 20 and 50 years.

Want more? Discover influential earth scientists throughout history:
Of All Time | Last 50 Years | Last 20 Years | Black Earth Scientists | Women Earth Scientists

Note: The time-specific links above take you to rankings that dynamically change as our AI learns new things!

Top Influential Earth Scientists 2010-2020

  1. #1

    Christopher Jackson

    Overall Influence
    1977 - Present (47 years)
    Christopher Aiden-Lee Jackson is a British geoscientist, science communicator and Director of Sustainable Geoscience at Jacobs Engineering Group. He was previously Professor of Sustainable Geoscience at the University of Manchester, and before that held the Equinor Chair of Basin Analysis at Imperial College, London. He is known for his work in geoscience, especially in the use of 3D seismic data to understand dynamic processes in sedimentary basins.
  2. #2

    Robert Hazen

    Overall Influence
    1948 - Present (76 years)
  3. #3

    Naomi Oreskes

    Overall Influence
    1958 - Present (66 years)

  4. #4

    Michael E. Mann

    Overall Influence
    1965 - Present (59 years)
    Michael Evan Mann is an American climatologist and geophysicist. He is the director of the Center for Science, Sustainability & the Media at the University of Pennsylvania. Mann has contributed to the scientific understanding of historic climate change based on the temperature record of the past thousand years. He has pioneered techniques to find patterns in past climate change and to isolate climate signals from noisy data.
  5. #5

    Clive Oppenheimer

    Overall Influence
    1964 - Present (60 years)
  6. #6

    Richard Alley

    Overall Influence
    1957 - Present (67 years)
  7. #7

    Isabelle Daniel

    Overall Influence
    1968 - Present (56 years)
  8. #8

    Marcia McNutt

    Overall Influence
    1952 - Present (72 years)
  9. #9

    Julie Arblaster

    Overall Influence
    1965 - Present (59 years)
  10. #10

    Jesse Ausubel

    Overall Influence
    1951 - Present (73 years)
    Jesse Huntley Ausubel is an American environmental scientist and program manager of a variety of global biodiversity and ecology research programs. Ausubel serves as director and senior research associate of the Program for the Human Environment of The Rockefeller University. He was also a science advisor and program manager at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation where his main area of responsibility was supporting basic research in science and technology.
  11. #11

    Ceridwen Fraser

    Overall Influence
    1979 - Present (45 years)
    Ceridwen Fraser is an Australian biogeographer, currently serving as a research associate professor for the Department of Marine Science at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. She focuses her studies on ecology, evolution, climate change, and how they are all significant to the southern hemisphere, specifically at higher latitudes such as Antarctica.
  12. #12

    Nigel Thrift

    Overall Influence
    1949 - Present (75 years)
  13. #13

    Paul Markowski

    Overall Influence
  14. #14

    Robert Stephen John Sparks

    Overall Influence
    1949 - Present (75 years)
  15. #15

    Jasper A. Vrugt

    Overall Influence
    1976 - Present (48 years)
  16. #16

    Kristín Vala Ragnarsdóttir

    Overall Influence
    1954 - Present (70 years)

    Areas of Specialization: Sustainability Science
    Krístin Vala Ragnarsdóttir was born in Iceland. She is Professor of Sustainability Science with the Institute of Earth Sciences and the Institute of Sustainability Studies at the University of Iceland. She also served as the University of Iceland’s Dean of the School of Engineering and Natural Sciences from 2008 until 2012. Vala was the first woman to serve as Dean of a School at the University.

    Ragnarsdóttir obtained her bachelor’s degree in 1979 from the University of Iceland, her master’s degree in 1981 from Northwestern University, and her PhD in 1984, also from Northwestern. Before returning to the University of Iceland, Ragnarsdóttir held the position of Professor of Environmental Sustainability at the University of Bristol in the UK.

    In addition, Ragnarsdóttir is also Distinguished Fellow at the Bristol-based Schumacher Institute, former Vice President of the New Hampshire based Balaton Group, and Fellow of the London-based Academia Europeae, the Icelandic Academy, and the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.

  17. #17

    Jane Lubchenco

    Overall Influence
    1947 - Present (77 years)
  18. #18

    Jamie Peck

    Overall Influence
    1962 - Present (62 years)
    Jamie Peck FRSC FAcSS is Canada Research Chair in Urban & Regional Political Economy and Professor of Geography at the University of British Columbia, Canada. He is the Managing Editor of Environment and Planning A and the convenor of the Summer Institute in Economic Geography.
  19. #19

    Kurt Lambeck

    Overall Influence
    1941 - Present (83 years)
  20. #20

    Richard Lindzen

    Overall Influence
    1940 - Present (84 years)
  21. #21

    Terry Plank

    Overall Influence
    1963 - Present (61 years)
  22. #22

    Bruce P. Luyendyk

    Overall Influence
    1943 - Present (81 years)
  23. #23

    Philip England

    Overall Influence
    1951 - Present (73 years)
  24. #24

    Pamela Matson

    Overall Influence
    1953 - Present (71 years)
  25. #25

    Gidon Eshel

    Overall Influence

Honorable Mentions in Earth Sciences

Want more? Discover influential earth scientists throughout history:
Of All Time | Last 50 Years | Last 20 Years | Black Earth Scientists | Women Earth Scientists

Interested in other influential persons? Check out our rankings of the most influential psychologists, and anthropologists, anthropologists under 40, and historians!
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