• A personal note on IGBP and the social sciences

    Humans are an integral component of the Earth system as conceptualised by IGBP. João Morais recalls key milestones in IGBP’s engagement with the social sciences and offers some words of advice for Future Earth.
  • IGBP and Earth observation:
    a co-evolution

    The iconic images of Earth beamed back by the earliest spacecraft helped to galvanise interest in our planet’s environment. The subsequent evolution and development of satellites for Earth observation has been intricately linked with that of IGBP and other global-change research programmes, write Jack Kaye and Cat Downy .
Published: April 26, 2011
Professor James PM Syvitski

New Chair of Scientific Committee Appointed

Press release |
The International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme is pleased to announce the appointment of Professor James PM Syvitski as the new Chairperson.
The IGBP Chair leads the Scientific Committee, IGBP's main decision-making body. Professor Syviski begins his appointment in January 2012.

The US academic is Executive Director of the Community Surface Dynamics Modeling System and brings extensive experience directing large national and international research institutes and programmes. He is co-author on more than 150 publications and has been involved in IGBP projects since IGBP's inception in 1987.

"This is an important time to join IGBP," says Professor Syvitski who is based at the University of Colorado, Boulder. "The defining research question of our age is how do we manage the Earth system - the planet's physical, chemical, biological and social components - responsibly, whilst feeding, clothing and protecting a population predicted to grow to nine billion people? IGBP and its partners are at the centre of this research," he adds.

The coastal-zone researcher is widely regarded as a leader in Earth-system science. He specializes in research on rivers, deltas, polar environments, sediment transport and continental margins. Over half the population of the planet live on the coasts, making research in Professor Syvitski's areas of expertise a priority for international research programmes.

In 2009, Professor Syvitski and colleagues published an influential paper revealing that most of the world's major deltas are sinking, largely as a result of human influence including mining, water extraction and damming.

Science communication is clearly important to Professor Syvitski: "IGBP faces a public with limited understanding of the complexities of global-change science. We have a duty and a responsibility to communicate to the widest possible audience the gravity and consequences of the global changes we are revealing."

Professor Syvitski's appointment begins 1 January 2012, and he will succeed Professor Carlos Nobre.

The Brazilian academic says, "I am delighted IGBP's Scientific Committee has appointed James Syvitski as Chair. He will bring a range of expertise and leadership skills to IGBP at this crucial time."

Professor Nobre added, "We are in the midst of a great transition. IGBP Is fully engaged with the International Council for Science's visioning process for the future of Earth System Science."

Since 2005, Professor Nobre has provided two consecutive terms of inspirational leadership to IGBP. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has recently appointed Professor Nobre to lead the Secretariat of Policies and Programs in Research and Development under the Ministry of Science and Technology in Brazil. In the wake of the severe floods and landslides affecting Brazil in 2011, Professor Nobre will lead the task team directed to create a disaster risk reduction strategy for the country.

Professor Nobre will be part of the Brazilian team developing the United Nations Rio+20 Summit in 2012. IGBP through the 2012 Planet Under Pressure conference in London will build close links with the Rio+20 Summit.

The appointment of Professor Syvitski as IGBP Chair has been formally endorsed by the International Council for Science.

More information

Owen Gaffney
Director of communications
International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme
Email: owen.gaffney@igbp.kva.se
Tel: +46 86739556
Mob: +46 730208418
Skype: owengaffneyigbp

Jim Scott
University of Colorado Boulder news office
Tel: (001) 3034923114

IGBP Vision

IGBP's vision is to provide essential scientific leadership and knowledge of the Earth system to help guide society onto a sustainable pathway during rapid global change.

IGBP, which began in 1987, is an international research programme sponsored by the International Council for Science.

Share this page
Tell a friend (opens in new window)
Follow us

Please note!

IGBP closed at the end of 2015. This website is no longer updated.

No events available

  • Global Change Magazine No. 84

    This final issue of the magazine takes stock of IGBP’s scientific and institutional accomplishments as well as its contributions to policy and capacity building. It features interviews of several past...

  • Global Change Magazine No. 83

    This issue features a special section on carbon. You can read about peak greenhouse-gas emissions in China, the mitigation of black carbon emissions and the effect of the 2010-2011 La Niña event on gl...