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Published: March 10, 2009

New Science Directions and Activities Relevant to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Press release |

Joint IPCC-WCRP-IGBP Workshop: New Science Directions and Activities Relevant to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Media Statement (Honolulu, 5. March, 2009)

3-6 March, 2009
University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii
Hosted by IPRC, Sponsored by IPCC, WCRP, and IGBP

From March 3 to 6, over 150 leading climate scientists from around the world gathered at the International Pacific Research Center of the University of Hawaii to discuss the latest developments in Climate Change science. The hosting institute is internationally known for its research in climate variability and climate change and serves as a meeting place for scientists from all over the world. The workshop was jointly sponsored by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) and the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP).

The goal of this workshop was to identify the latest developments in Climate Change science and discuss their implications for our understanding of the Earth System and its response to ongoing accelerated emissions of greenhouse gases and pollution particulates (aerosols), and deforestation. The findings of the scientists will be made available for the planning of the Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC which is due in 2013.

Increasing computational power, and advances in process understanding and observations, now permit global climate models to address regional climate change and extreme events in much greater detail. In an unprecedented effort involving all climate modelling centers around the world, including the participation of developing countries, the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) is coordinating climate model experiments and their analyses which will be assessed for the next IPCC report. This will result in a better estimate of the uncertainty involved in climate change projections and accelerate the development of climate models.

In the framework of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), these computer models are now evolving into "Earth System" models which are more inclusive of the roles of biology and chemistry, and the role of human activities, in the climate system. These models will be the tools to understand how current and future changes in energy use and environmental management will affect our climate and ecosystems worldwide.

Among the findings that were discussed by the scientists are interactions between the cycling of carbon and nitrogen in the climate system and new feedback processes involving the atmosphere, oceans, land and ice, details of which are yet to be fully understood and quantified. The fate of the large ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica in a warmer world and the role of warming oceans in promoting ice-shelf melt, is a continuing concern that has direct implications for uncertainties in the projection of global sea level rise.

The scientists, gathered from all over the world, who participated in the workshop have extensive experience in performing scientific assessments for policy makers worldwide. In seeking to advance knowledge about the vulnerability of this planet to human-induced climate change, scientific rigor must remain a hallmark of the information that will be used for responsible decisions and wise stewardship.

T. Stocker (IPCC), K. Hibbard (IGBP), V. Ramaswamy (WCRP)

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

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